I know it does not bode well for a book when I’d rather scrub my kitchen than read it. Sadly, that’s what I was doing last night instead of reading Blind Run. There’s lots of potential here, and I could appreciate the book, but I could not connect with the characters or story enough to want to read it. Essentially, it doesn’t suck.
Ethan Decker used to work for the CIA in a top-secret unit that retrieved or took out terrorists and fugitives. Three years ago an assignment went wrong and the intended target, an assassin named Ramirez, got away. Unfortunately, Ethan’s young son was killed, and fearing for his wife’s safety, Ethan leaves her and goes into hiding in the New Mexican desert.
On the third anniversary of his son’s death a woman from his past shows up on his doorstep. Anna Kelsey, one of the agents involved in the screw-up, needs a favor and dumps two kids on Ethan’s doorstep before taking off. He gives chase only to find her along the main road murdered, with a Spanish coin in her mouth – Ramirez’s signature. He finds her cell phone, hits re-dial and hears the voice mail of Sydney, hiw ex-wife. Afraid she’s Ramirez’s next target, he gathers up the kids and heads back to Dallas to convince Sydney she’s in danger. Ethan barely gets there in time to save her, especially when she doesn’t trust him, but it soon becomes clear someone besides Ramirez is after them and the key is the two children Anna left with Ethan.
Callie and Danny have spent their entire lives on a remote island outside of Seattle, in a boarding school-like setting referred to as The Haven. They tell of children on the island mysteriously getting sick and disappearing. After sneaking into computer files Danny learned that he and Callie are siblings and Anna helped them escape the island to look for their father. They believe they were kidnapped, but Ethan and Sydney suspect something more nefarious is going on, since someone is willing to kill to keep the children’s existence a secret.
First let me make it clear that this is not a romance; it’s a straight suspense novel. Therefore the plot takes precedence over the characterization. There is a relationship between Ethan and Sydney, but I wouldn’t call it a romance. When it comes to Ethan and Sydney we are told more than shown that there are feelings between them. So when they choose to try again at their relationship it isn’t very believable. This could be a result of Ethan being the more dominant and better-developed character, as much of Sydney’s role is reactionary. She not only reacts to Ethan, but the children and the villains of the piece, so the reader never really gets a feel for Sydney’s motivations as a character.
Characterization was also a big problem for the children. I understand they’ve had little outside contact and are molded by their dealings with the adults at the Haven, but Callie never once seemed seven years old. Even children who are old souls or very mature for their age as some point revert to childish behavior when tired or ill or scared. Not Callie; she seemed like she was a wise old senior citizen. Although Danny behaved in proper whiny pre-teen fashion, he didn’t seem twelve years old either. Think of a bossy, alpha hero, with a mix of the heroines who don’t stay put when they’re told to and you have Danny.
While the plot is intriguing, there were a few plot holes that never quite made sense. If Danny could break into the Haven’s computer system to find his father, why couldn’t he find out what they were doing to the children, especially since he was able to gather those files off the computer for Sydney with ease later in the book? What was Anna’s motivation? Why did she kidnap the children in the first place? Boredom? To get even with the CIA? To expose what was happening at the Haven? But the most puzzling plot development has to do with the Callie getting sick, because she is supposed to be the perfect final product of what the people at the Haven are creating. To explain more would be a spoiler, except to say that she shouldn’t get sick. The final plot quibble is that it extends beyond the natural ending to reveal the “villain behind the villain” pulling the strings of the lesser villains. It was overkill.
Lewin has potential as a suspense writer. The story was easy to read, was well paced, the transitioning of scenes made sense within context of the story, and the plot was interesting. But the overall package was lacking and I was left feeling pretty ho-hum about the whole thing. I believe with a little tweaking Lewin could write a really good suspense story, but not this one – and not at hardcover prices.