Book Review: If I Run by Terri Blackstock
by Sandra Ardoin
Unfortunately, something came up Tuesday, so I rescheduled this review. So sorry for the delay!
Few writers do mystery/suspense better than Terri Blackstock, so I leaped at the opportunity to read her latest If I Run.
In this novel, Casey Cox finds the body of one of her best friends and flees the scene, leaving behind enough evidence of her presence to convict her of the crime. Casey has a good reason for running. If the local police—her late father’s comrades—find her, she’s dead.
While running, Casey, a non-believer, forms a friendship with a Christian woman, which leads her into a missing persons case and a choice.
I don’t say so, but I don’t understand why that had to happen. Christians always act like Jesus’ death on a cross was inevitable, like Jesus had to die the way he did. But I don’t see it. For instance, why did God set such a high price on sin? Hadn’t he ever heard of a discount? Couldn’t he have accepted all those bulls and goats being sacrificed and called it even?
Dylan Roberts, a childhood friend of the murder victim, is a former military cop hired by the man’s parents to locate Casey and bring her back. While he wants to find the woman who killed his friend, he fears his PTSD will keep him from succeeding.
As the service begins with worship music meant to focus our thoughts on the One who gives life and takes it away, I can’t manage to sing. ...
I’m the one who was at war for three deployments. He’s the one who wound up dead.
My survival is wrong on so many levels. ...
Sudden anger assaults me, and I feel the ceiling sinking, the walls sliding inward, enclosing me. I can’t catch a breath, and my heart bangs against my chest. Sweat is clammy on my skin…I slip out of my pew and head outside.
First, I was caught off-guard when I opened the book and discovered the story was written in the form of two first person, PRESENT tense, POV characters, something I haven’t seen before from the author. I’m letting you know so, if you’re like me and that’s not your favorite way to read a story, you won’t be taken aback.
Second, this is the first of a series. It is NOT a standalone. There is a mystery within a mystery in this book that is solved at the end, but Casey’s overall story continues. I liken it to the old Fugitive series. (If you’re not a 60s baby, you may have to look that reference up. 🙂 )
I don’t consider the above as spoilers, just FYIs. Now that I’ve gotten my two bugaboos out of the way, let’s get to the good stuff.
After a while, I was so engrossed in Casey’s plight and Dylan’s troubles that I ignored the structure (mostly). Yes, it took me a while to get comfortable with the book, but hey, it’s Terri Blackstock—the writing, the crime, the motives, the climax all rock!
Casey is young, mid-twenties, so I could see her trying to use CSI info she’s learned on TV and in movies to avoid capture. Dylan’s issues provoked sympathy.
I don’t want to get into the nuts and bolts of the plot, because it would be easy to give too much away. Needless to say, when Book Two comes out, there will be no “if” about it. I’ll run to get in line.
Have you ever opened a book and been taken by surprise by something you weren’t expecting? Maybe, as in my case here, it was the form in which the story was written. Maybe it was the personality of the main character. Maybe it contained content you weren’t expecting. Did you read on or put the book down?