Thursday, March 3, 2011

Review: The Survivor

Publishing date: 3 March 2011 by Simon & Shuster UK

Read: 21 - 28 February 2011
Challenges: Mystery & Suspence Reading Challenge #3

ARC provided by the publisher through Book Chick City's Mystery & Suspense Challenge 2011.

From the publisher
Columbine. Dunblane. Virginia Tech. Winnenden. But Saint Patrick's High?

In his first hour back from a six-month leave of absence, Detective Jacob Striker's day quickly turns into a nightmare. He is barely on scene five minutes at his daughter's high school when he encounters an Active Shooter situation. Three men wearing hockey masks - Black, White, and Red - have stormed the school with firearms and are killing indiscriminately.

Striker takes immediate action. Within minutes, two of the gunmen are dead and Striker is close to ending the violence.

But the last gunman, Red Mask, does something unexpected. He runs up to his fallen comrade, racks the shotgun, and unloads five rounds into the man, obliterating his face and hands. Before Striker can react, Red Mask flees - and escapes.

Against the clock, Striker investigates the killings for which there is no known motive and no known suspect. Soon his investigation takes him to darker places, and he realizes that everything at Saint Patrick's High is not as it appears. The closer he gets to the truth, the more dangerous his world becomes. Until Striker himself is in the line of fire.

And the violence follows him home.

In an interview Sean Slater reveals that Lee Child and James Patterson are some of his favourite authors, and after reading The Survivor, this does not surprise me. The book is a gritty, fast-paced thriller that will leave you on the edge of your seat from the first page.

This is a book I probably would not have picked up had I not received an ARC of it, but I am glad I got the chance to read it. The setting (Vancouver) was completely new to me, as was the subject matter (Asian underground gangs). According to the cover, Slater is a "real-life Vancouver cop" and it is obvious that he knows his way around both the city and its police force.

Detective Jacob Striker is a nice guy who has been through some tough times. He is trying to come to terms with the death of his wife and being a good father to his 15-year-old daughter Courtney. She, on the other hand, is behaving like any other teenager; skipping school, trying to catch the eye of her crush, and being angry with her father. Their father-daughter relationship rang true, and I also liked Striker's relationship with his partner Felicia, who is a smart and feisty cop. Striker is good at his job and follows his hunches, even if it lands him in trouble with his superiors. We also get a bit of insight into the main antagonist's mind, with some chapters written from his point of view. This worked very well and made him more human to me. I almost felt sorry for him, rather against my will.

At times there were a lot of different plot points and clues to keep track of, but Slater does a good job of connecting all the dots in the end. The book does contain some violence and a couple of torture scenes, but they are not overly graphic. The ending took me by surprise, and felt a little more realistic than in many other books of the same genre.

Best: The authenticity. I'm not a cop nor have I ever been to Vancouver so obviously I don't know what either is really like, but it felt real while reading.

Worst: The rather silly nicknames, like Noodles, Shipwreck and Meathead. And the name Pinkerton Morningstar. I could not take that man seriously.

Bottom line: The Survivor is a fast-paced thriller that will keep you engaged from beginning to end.

My rating:

The next installment of the Jacob Striker series will be out in 2012.

1 comment:

Heather said...

This sounds like just my kind of book! Thanks for the review. Another book I have to put on my list :)

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