Thursday, July 5, 2012

Book Review: Ransom River by Meg Gardiner

Ransom River
Author: Meg Gardiner
Publication: Dutton Adult (July 5, 2012)

Description: A stunningly complex and atmospheric novel from Edgar Award–winning author Meg Gardiner, featuring a deeply flawed, compelling heroine, a murder trial, and the long-unsolved mystery it exposes.

Rory Mackenzie is juror number seven on a high-profile murder case in her hometown of Ransom River, California. It’s a place she vowed never to visit again, after leaving behind its surfeit of regret and misfortune and the specter of a troubled past that threatened to disturb the town’s peaceful façade.
Brilliant yet guarded, Rory has always felt like an outsider. She retreated into herself when both her career aspirations and her love affair with a childhood friend, undercover cop Seth Colder, were destroyed in a tragic accident.

While most of the town is focused on the tense and shocking circumstances of the trial, Rory’s return to Ransom River dredges up troubling memories from her childhood that she can no longer ignore. But in the wake of a desperate attack on the courthouse, Rory realizes that exposing these dark skeletons has connected her to an old case that was never solved, and bringing the truth to light just might destroy her.

Departing from her popular series novels, Meg Gardiner has gone deeper than ever into the utterly convincing lives and compelling pasts of her characters. Ransom River is an intimate crime thriller with a dark mystery at its heart—one that will keep readers breathless until the very last page.

My Thoughts: Talk about a book that is hard to put down! This one was impossible to put down. Rory comes back to Ransom River after losing her job because the non-profit Asylum Action she was working for in Europe lost its funding. She get home just in time to be called for jury duty in a case where two cops are charged with killing an unarmed intruder. That would be sticky enough but the intruder is the son of a gangster. One day the courtroom is attacked by armed gunmen and Rory is chosen as one of four hostages. The crime goes terribly wrong and the intruders are killed but the cops think Rory had something to do with the crime and are on her case.

And old flame of Rory's Seth Colder comes back into the picture. They parted before Rory went off to Europe because Seth was an undercover cop and Rory thought he was too far into the undercover life and becoming someone she didn't know. She broke up with him but before they could part company Seth was called to a crime scene. On the way their truck was t-boned by another vehicle breaking Rory's leg and causing internal injuries. When Seth didn't come to see her in the hospital she knew it was over and so she left the country as soon as she could.

Besides Rory and Seth's broken relationship, this story is also about twisted family dynamics and an armored truck robbery that occurred when Rory and Seth were nine. Rory has two cousins - the children of her beloved Uncle Lee - who are just this side of crazy and who have been resentful of what they saw as Rory's perfect life. Her cousin Riss constantly harassed her in school by spreading rumors about her. Her cousin Boone tried sexual harassment when she was only twelve. Rory has kept all of this from her parents because they are her father's brother's kids but her parents are keeping secrets from her too.

Seth's family isn't much better. He is the son of a retired, decorated police officer but he quit the force two years ago convinced that something was rotten in the Ransom River Police Department. When an undercover operation he was part of was blown, he knew the information to wreck it had to come from someone inside the police department.

This a a tense thriller where new and troubling information is constantly coming to the surface. Through it all Rory is determined to "get up one more time than she falls down" but the odds are incredibly against her when she doesn't know who she can trust. I couldn't turn the pages fast enough with this one. I recommend it highly to lovers of thrillers and even to lovers of romances because the relationship between Rory and Seth is compelling too.

Favorite Quote:
What had Sam thought? That Rory had torn down the postcards herself? They never mentioned it aloud. It was one of those things that just floated past, a piece of emotional junk that the family presumed would degrade and sink to the bottom.
I received this book from Dutton in exchange for an honest review. You can buy a copy here. You can also check out the complete list of Meg Gardiner's books here.

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