First and foremost, a large thank you to NetGalley, Candice Fox, and Macmillan Audio for providing me with a copy of this publication, which allows me to provide you with an unbiased review.
Usually a fan of Candice Fox and her novels, I eagerly accepted the latest book in audio form. Fox has a great ability to pull the reader into the middle of the story with strong writing and alluring characters. After a coordinated prison break in the middle of the Nevada desert, panic ensues and a plan is activated. The story follows not only the attempt to corral these men back into custody, but also an inmate’s journey to show his innocence before he is put to death. Fox draws the story out and adds her own spin to keep the readers hooked throughout.
During the annual baseball game between inmates and guards, something goes horribly wrong and six hundred of the world’s most violent criminals are soon on the streets. It’s mass panic across the Nevada desert, as any one of these men could use their freedom to create another bloodbath. It’s mayhem and the public’s ready to face a rude awakening.
Celine Osbourne, a dedicated Death Row supervisor and fugitive-hunter, is tasked with leading the manhunt. She has her own issues buried in the past, but won’t use this as an excuse, as she tries to locate the worst of the worst in hopes of ensuring her superiors do not fire her at the first opportunity. Still, there is a sense of defeat as time passes without any concrete solutions. She’s also forced to examine how all this happened and whether one of her staff might be the key to the prison break.
One of those inmates is John Kradle, found guilty of murdering his wife and child. Kradle is now espousing that he was innocent and simply folded to make things easier at the time. He’s ready to prove his innocence and tries piecing together facts that could change his outcome. Every step of the way is fraught with risks that could see him executed sooner than expected, should he be caught.
As Osbourne and Kradle play a crazy game of chicken, it’s only time before one of the makes a mistake that could impact things greatly. The hunt is on and no one is quite sure how it will end. Fox delivers an intriguing story, full of flashback moments, to keep the reader hooked until the very end.
Having read a number of Candice Fox’s novels, I feel somewhat connected about what she usually offers and the expectations tied to that. While she is great with crime novels and the search for criminals, I found a disconnect with this piece, at least from the caliber I have come to expect. The story was decent, with some intriguing plot twists and flashback moments. However, I failed to fully connect with it on a number of levels. It might have been the narration or slow pace of the story’s development, but there was a gap that left me feeling less than enthused by the final product.
The dual protagonists in this piece, Celine Osbourne and John Kradle, worked well in their own ways. With a story that flips from character development to layered backstory, Fox uses both these techniques to create a relationship with the reader. There are some intriguing points throughout, though I am unsure how effective it was for me, as I could not get past the slow pace of the story’s development. I tried to get enthused with the Osbourne/Kradle game of cat and mouse, but sometimes felt it was for the dogs, if you pardon the pun.
I have come to expect great things when Candice Fox’ name appears on a book cover, having seen just how impactful her writing can be and what her collaborative efforts can do in a series. However, I was left feeling a little underwhelmed here. I’m not sure if it was the writing, the narration, or even that things took much longer than needed, but there was something I could not entirely enjoy. Interesting plot twists did not save the novel for me, nor did an array of characters whose lives mesh together to add depth to the story. Every author deserves a mulligan, though it may also be me who missed the mark with this piece. I’ll see what others feel and hope that I am in the minority.
Kudos, Madam Fox, for a valiant attempt. I cannot wait to see you return to the gritty police procedurals for which you have come to be known.