A serial killer is just one of the men jockeying for the heroine’s attention in this suspenseful, distracted romantic thriller.
Fleeing her unrequited passion for a lifelong friend, Scott, 20-something veterinarian Audrey West embarks on a road trip across the South to the house she’s inherited from her uncle on Wright’s Island in South Carolina. Unfortunately, along the way she piques the interest of Ridley Myers, the notorious River City Killer, who feels that the feisty, fiercely independent Audrey will make challenging quarry. After freaking her out with his creepy mien and scorpion tattoo, Ridley decides to play a subtler mind game by planting himself, in disguise, on the island and anonymously stalking her while he savors her mounting terror. Ridley is a mesmerizing sociopath, a mix of cold cunning and seething psychotic rage, and the author makes his surreptitious siege of Audrey meticulous, devilishly shrewd and very scary. But Tharp can’t quite decide if she’s writing a dire thriller or a blithe romance, and the conflicting impulses disperse some of the novel’s tension. Audrey’s dance card is so full that Ridley sits out for long stretches while she dallies with roguishly handsome fishing-boat captain Jack Walsh. Brimming with concern and jealousy, Scott shows up to complete the triangle and provoke Audrey’s fraught ponderings of their relationship. Ridley may be spying on her from his hiding place, but Audrey is plenty busy with her own ogling of “the sweat on [Scott’s] back and the thin line of untanned skin at the top of his low hung shorts.” Tharp is a talented, observant writer with a knack for taking us inside her characters’ heads, no matter how unsavory. The gripping crime yarn and the romantic melodrama are effective on their own terms, but when smushed together, the tonal clash lessens the impact of both.
An entertaining but sometimes discordant blend of nerve-wracking fear and randy ooh-la-la.
A highly organized, informative discussion of the immigration system in the United States.
In this politically charged environment, Afrasiabi manages to broach the volatile issue of immigration in a well-rounded, surprisingly effective framework that combines case studies, historical research, statistical analysis and personal anecdotes to detail the current issues and propose solutions. Invocations of Kafka, “The Twilight Zone” and “Alice in Wonderland” prove warranted as illustrations of the often surreal circumstances that confront immigrants facing deportation. Immigrants usually lack access to quality legal representation, while their situation can be made doubly difficult due to language barriers and significant cultural differences. Afrasiabi incorporates his work with colleagues and students at the Chapman University School of Law to deftly weave together the facts of several compelling cases and their underlying legal issues, with a genuine sense of suspense as readers wonder if justice will be truly be served. Occasionally, though, the narrative becomes overwrought—two federal laws passed in 1996 are “dark storm clouds depositing their sleet”—although, considering the life-changing effects of court decisions, it’s difficult to overstate the ramifications: extralegal rendition of individuals with pending cases and the de facto deportation of native-born children whose parents are deported. Afrasiabi also addresses the legacy of various anti-alien laws in California, as well as marriage equality for same-sex couples when one partner is a noncitizen. As the subtitle asserts, Afrasiabi employs his additional experience in the field of property law to contrast the stark differences between immigration judges and constitutional judges, like their qualifications, vetting processes and even the oaths they take. His arguments culminate in seven concrete reforms proposed in the conclusion. In order to make the immigration system more just and effective, Afrasiabi claims the solutions are closer than we may think; we can implement procedures and safeguards already in place within the constitutional courts.
A persuasive, valuable addition to the ongoing immigration reform debate.
Walkley pits CIA agents against a maniacal Saudi prince intent on starting World War III in this debut thriller.
Delta Force operative Lee McCloud, aka Mac, finds himself in Mexico, trying to rescue two teenage girls kidnapped by a drug cartel. But things go from bad to worse when the villains don’t play by the rules. Framed for two murders he didn’t commit, Mac has two options: go to prison or go to work for a CIA black-op group run by the devious Wisebaum, who hacks into terrorists’ bank accounts and confiscates millions of dollars. However, there’s more going on than meets the eye; Saudi Prince Khalid is in possession of nuclear canisters, with which he hopes to alter world history. Khalid also dabbles in trafficking young women, and harvesting and selling human organs. When Wisebaum’s black-op team targets Khalid’s father, the action becomes even more intense. With so many interweaving subplots—kidnapped girls, Israeli undercover agents, nuclear weapons and a secret underwater hideout—it could be easy to lose track of what’s going on. But the author’s deft handling of the material ensures that doesn’t occur; subplots are introduced at the appropriate junctures and, by story’s end, all are accounted for and neatly concluded. Mac is portrayed as a rough and ready action-hero, yet his vulnerabilities will evoke empathy in readers. He finds a love interest in Tally, a hacker whose personality is just quirky enough to complement his own. All Walkley’s primary characters are fleshed out and realistic, with the exception of Wisebaum—a malicious, double-dealing, back-stabber of the worst ilk; the reader is left wondering about Wisebaum’s motivations behind such blatant treachery.
Despite this, Walkley’s beefy prose and rousing action sequences deliver a thriller to satisfy any adrenaline addict.