Mark Terry

Thursday, July 22, 2010

On Your Reading Radar: Running From The Devil by Jamie Freveletti

July 22, 2010
True story: When I was at the Phoenix Airport back in June, killing time before my flight back to Michigan, I was browsing around in the bookstore and I picked up Running From The Devil by Jamie Freveletti and was very intrigued. But I was in a dithering mood, so I put it back and picked up 61 Hours by Lee Child instead (which I haven't gotten around to reading yet). I actually spent the entire trip home finishing Mike Lawson's House Rules.

A month or so later Jamie's publicist contacted me asking if I was interested in possibly reviewing a couple books and Jamie's book(s) was one of them. I said sure. Then, I was somewhat surprised to see, a week or so ago, Running From The Devil won the Thriller Award for Best First Novel from International Thriller Writers, Inc., an organization I not only am a member of, and that I regularly write for their newsletter, but I once acted as a judge for the Thriller Award.

So I read the book. It's good. Very, very good. Best new novel of the year? Dunno, haven't read them all, let alone all the books nominated for the award--and having been a judge convinced me more than ever that awards of this sort of capricious at best, but... it's good.

Emma Caldridge is a chemist for a cosmetic company and an ultramarathon runner. She's taking a trip to Colombia when the plane she is on crashes and she and about 60 or 70 other passengers survive. But when she awakens in the jungle, she sees guerillas rounding up the survivors and herding them along a path--their intent is to ransom them off.

And so begins a compelling story of survival as Emma tracks the group and tries to stay alive. Interestingly, that's one story. Another story is about a military contractor affiliated with the Department of Defense that is struggling to make a rescue attempt. Another story is what Emma's doing in Colombia in the first place and why another group appears to be looking specifically for her.

Emma's a very interesting character. Complex. Tough. Angry. Smart. The pacing is dead on and there's plenty of tension. Perhaps Emma operates at a rather higher level (something Derek Stillwater has been accused of) than she should, or perhaps she's just rising to the occasion, unusually well equipped for the disaster she finds herself in. In that Emma's particular expertise as a chemist is medicinal plants and medicines, there's some fairly inventive arcana that she uses to survive that I enjoyed a lot. I have far too many questions about the reasons she was in Colombia, and some of that comes from my own scientific background and interests, including those of my own novels.

Nonetheless, a very impressive debut and I highly recommend this book.


Blogger sex scenes at starbucks, said...

I tend to like characters who can do more than they should. You know, like Bruce Willis. (Yeah, I know he's the actor, but he always plays characters who can do more than they should.)

7:11 AM  
Blogger Erica Orloff said...

This sounds intriguing.

And what I like (at least from your description . . . ) . . . a pretty original storyline.

7:49 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Thanks for the great review, I'm glad you liked the book! Be sure to pick up RUNNING DARK, it just came out.

8:15 AM  
Blogger Mark Terry said...

Yeah, they sent me that one, too. Eventually...

9:30 AM  
Blogger Barbara Martin said...

I like the premise of this, but as I'm on a tight budget will wait until it's out in paperback.

5:12 PM  
Blogger Mark Terry said...

It is out in mass market paperback. The hardcover was published in 2009.

6:46 AM  

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