When John Bodine’s wife, Ruby, is diagnosed with cancer and their medical insurance won’t cover the drug she needs to save her life, John does what you or I probably wouldn’t do. He steals someone else’s identity and files a fraudulent claim with another insurance company. This isn’t as far-fetched as it sounds. Palmer establishes that John operates an online computer game and that he sifts through his subscriber files to find a suitable identity to borrow for a while. But he doesn’t count on the unwitting identity donor finding out, tracking him down, and threatening to kill people unless John plays along with his sick, twisted game, in which John is required to do increasingly illegal things. Someone like Gregg Hurwitz or Linwood Barclay would have hit this one out of the park, but as it stands, the book is more like a ground-rule double—solid contact but not quite enough oomph to reach the fence. Helping hold it back is John’s plan to extricate his wife from one of his tormenter’s games, which, frankly, is so “oh give me a break!” implausible that it almost deserves to fail miserably. There is one pretty nifty plot twist about three-quarters of the way into the book, but by then we’re starting to grow tired of John and Ruby and their plight—they are committing major insurance fraud, after all—and by the tormenter’s increasingly unbelievable cat-and-mouse game. Definitely weaker than the author’s excellent debut, Delirious (2011), and about on par with its weaker follow-up, Helpless (2012). --David Pitt
<DIV>"In Stolen, Daniel Palmer updates a classic premise, the ordinary man thrust into an extraordinary situation, and the result is a twisting, suspenseful chiller of a book." --William Landay, New York Times bestselling author of Defending Jacob
Hanging from a mountain cliff with two other climbers, John must make a gut-wrenching decision: which man should he cut loose in order to save John and one other. John's action gives us a preview of his personality and capabilities, as the theme of "what would you do to save yourself?" plays throughout the rest of this suspenseful thriller. John and Ruby are young, in love, and on their way to success when Ruby is diagnosed with cancer. After finding out their insurance will not cover the lifesaving medicine she needs, John uses his technology skills to steal an identity and file a false claim. But the couple are pulled into a horrible cat-and-mouse game when the identity theft victim threatens to kill people close to them if John and Ruby refuse to play a game called Criminal.
Verdict Palmer's (Delirious; Helpless) whirlwind of a thriller takes readers into the mind of a psychopath as his victims go to extremes to come out alive. This well-written, well-paced nail-biter will please adrenaline fiction junkies. --Library Journal
In the prologue of Palmer's unrelentingly suspenseful thriller, John Bodine, an avid mountain climber from Boston, faces a horrific choice after an avalanche sweeps his two companions over a ridgeline in Tibet. To survive, John must cut one of the ropes that connect him to his friends, causing one of them to fall to his death. Years later, John learns that his insurance company won't pay for the expensive treatment his wife needs after being diagnosed with late-stage cancer. Desperate, he succeeds in stealing the identity of another man, Elliot Uretsky, who has the proper insurance. The problem is, Uretsky is a serial killer. Uretsky calls John and tells him he knows what John is doing and will turn him in unless John agrees to play "a game." John must commit ever-more-dangerous crimes, and when he balks, Uretsky kills someone close to him. Readers should note that Palmer (Helpless) sets a high bar for serial killer brutality. --Publishers Weekly