No Place to Run, by Mark Edwards

Seven stars

As it has been a while since I picked up a book by Mark Edwards, I thought that I would take a leap with this one. Edwards has been known to impress me with his thrillers, many of which explore the darker side of humanity. This piece, while offering moments of tense storytelling, did not hit the mark for me, leaving me wanting more and wishing that things could have been like some of the past novels Edwards has written. Still, I gave it my best and can only hope others find something alluring with the story.

During a trip to Seattle two years ago, Scarlett disappeared while visiting her brother. Aidan spent the follow years trying to track her down, running into countless dead ends and a handful of shrugs from those around him. When Aidan receives a tip that a young woman matching Scarlett’s description was running for her life in Northern California, he latches onto this and the search resumes. But, could it really be Scarlett after all this time?

Aidan makes his way to the location, only to be greeted by a fire-ravaged community filled with missing person posters. The locals are mum about anything going on, but Aidan is sure there is more to the story. He is about to give up once more, but locates a woman willing to talk. Lana helps Aidan as best she can, but they find themselves in deeper trouble when they try to learn too much. Deep in the forest, a number of teenagers thought missing have been living and working, but they are by no means free. Aidan tries to find Scarlett, which only creates more issues and helps endanger him, with Lana by his side.

With everything to lose and little time, Aidan and Lana make their move, in hopes of freeing many who have been held captive, but at some great risk. These are eco-terrorists who have indoctrinated many to follow their belief system and push back against many who might try to steer them in other directions. Scarlett means the world to Aidan, but will he be able to wrest control of her away from this group with little regard for the outside world? Edwards posits this in a thriller than has moments of brilliance.

I have always enjoyed the work of Mark Edwards, as it is chilling to the core and usually leaves me with more questions than answers. However, this book left me with the wrong type of questions as I tapped my toe for wanting to get to the point. Edwards weaves the story along, only to leave the reader wanting more and wishing that the journey could have been different. I am eager to see if he can rebound from this and return to his glory.

Edwards uses his quick narrative style to draw an image of the goings-on for the reader, which helped give me an initial interest in the piece. However things appeared to wane soon thereafter, not saved by some good character development or strong descriptive skill. Edwards offered some drama at just the right moments to keep things on pace for a decent novel, but I was missing the spine-tingling thrills to which I am accustomed in his novels. Lots of bluster and little impact for me, though I am sure many others found something with which they could relate.

Kudos, Mr. Edwards, for a decent read, but not at the calibre I have become accustomed. Better luck winning me over next time.