Witness on the Run
I’m fascinated by books set in the harsh wilderness of Alaska, so Susan Cliff’s Witness on the Run seemed like the perfect book for me. It features a slow-burn romance between interesting leads and a healthy dose of suspense. It’s not a perfect book, but I enjoyed it just the same.
Tala Walker has been on the run for the past year. Staying one step ahead of her abusive husband isn’t easy, but she is determined to evade him for as long as she possibly can. When the book opens, she’s working as a waitress at a diner and it seems like she’s safe for the time being – but everything changes when she steps outside to empty the trash and just happens to witness a murder. The killer knows she can identify him, and so Tala is forced to flee once again, and she enlists the help of trucker Cameron Hughes.
Cameron is still grieving the tragic death of his wife, and life on the road suits him just fine. Working as an ice road trucker in the wilds of Alaska is incredibly dangerous, but Cameron has fully embraced the danger as a way to cope with his soul-crushing grief. He isn’t exactly keen to help Tala escape those on her trail, but there’s something about her that speaks to him in spite of his reservations.
Both Tala and Cameron are keeping dangerous secrets, so their alliance seems almost incomprehensible to the reader. But as time passes, these two deeply damaged individuals begin to let down their guards and soon, it becomes clear to them both that trusting one another is the only way they can stay safe. It doesn’t happen overnight, something I definitely appreciated. Ms. Cliff does a stellar job portraying the inner turmoil both Cameron and Tala face as they slowly give into their feelings for one another.
I was really pleased by the balance between the romance and the suspense. Both are given just enough page time, and I never felt one aspect of the story was overwhelming the other. There were a few times toward the end of the novel when I felt the actions of the villains were a little over the top, but I was able to suspend my disbelief and go with the flow of the story.
One of the best parts of this book was the beautiful word pictures the author painted of Alaska. It’s a place I’ve never visited in person, but the author’s vivid depictions of the setting made me feel like I was there. She manages to capture both the stark beauty and the unforgiving nature of the land so well.
I would have liked Ms. Cliff to have spent a little more time developing the pasts of her characters. We get enough information to understand what’s happening, but certain aspects of the back story felt incomplete and I found myself left with a few questions. It’s almost as if Ms. Cliff expected me to understand the motivations of her characters even though she hadn’t fully explained them, something I obviously wasn’t able to do.
I’m happy to recommend Witness on the Run to readers looking for a solid romantic suspense story with an unusual setting. It’s a quick, engrossing read that manages to be memorable in spite of its flaws, and I’m glad I gave it a chance.