Saturday, June 21, 2014

'One Kick'

There's a fine line between a mystery story and a thriller.

A mystery is just that:  A mystery.  A puzzle.  

A thriller, however, is a whole different kettle of killing.  More blood; more gore.  More darkness.  More tension.  More use of the last name of one of the main protagonists. Sometimes, the use of only the last name bothers me, but in this instance, it couldn't be more fitting.

I speak, of course, about Bishop, an incredibly memorable character in Chelsea Cain's new novel, 'One Kick'.  Sure, he's very mysterious, secretive,, but he isn't the center of this fast-paced, jaw-dropping story.

That right belongs to Kick Lannigan, a former missing child who was rescued after five years spent in captivity. Trained as a marksman, a lock picker extraordinaire, and a bomb maker by her abductor, Kick could not return to the life of a normal young girl after she was rescued. Immersing herself in the martial arts, knife throwing, and survival techniques, she becomes obsessed with finding other lost children and rescuing them from the life and lies she once endured.

When two local children go missing, Kick is approached by a former arms dealer.  Bishop is determined to use his wealth and contacts to find the missing children, and he is certain that with Kick's knowledge, they can be located.  But as she reluctantly teams up with him, she finds that she cannot escape her past...and it soon comes calling.

While I found a particular dark humor in Cain's 'Archie Sheridan/Gretchen Lowell' thrillers ('Heartsick', 'Sweetheart', etc.), I found very little of it in her newest story.  Although the horror conveyed in this newest story is less gritty than in her previous novels, I found the subject matter shocking.  While it left a bitter taste in my mouth, my anger only grew stronger the deeper I fell into the story.

But it was a particularly sad passage that made me howl in rage (I actually threw the book across the room, almost interrupting my husband's golf game on t.v.) and left me in tears. "Thanks for that, Chelsea," Book Hog says, sarcastically.

Portland author Chelsea Cain

That's the sign of good writing.  And that's why I love her stories so much.  Aside from the fact that they are set in Portland, Cain has the skill in setting a pace that doesn't come up short.  No lapses, here.  And her characters are so finally drawn that you will remember them for years to come, like her previous characters:  Stoic Archie, brave Susan, and crazy/cool Gretchen. And I can't forget to mention Cain's famously impeccable research; it goes deep, lifting 'One Kick' well above 'the norm'.    

I tried to set this book down, time and again.  I tried to read it only before I went to sleep.  I failed miserably.

But I was thrilled.

'One Kick', the first in a new series published by Simon & Schuster, will be released in August 2014.  You'll be able to find it at your local library and favorite independent bookstore.  Book Hog thanks S&S for the opportunity to preview this new book!

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