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Chasing the Dead: A Novel Mass Market Paperback – September 25, 2007
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From Publishers Weekly
Starred Review. Abandon hope, all readers who enter Schreiber's taut, scary debut: you're not going anywhere until you devour every one of its tension-filled pages. Sue Young, a 34-year-old single mom living in Boston, gets a phone call from a man who informs her he's kidnapped her infant daughter, Veda, and chastises her for an ancient crime she committed with her childhood friend and mysteriously missing ex-husband, Philip Chamberlain. The creepy, psycho kidnapper soon subjects Sue to an agenda that includes grave robbing, child killing, shotgun murders, zombies and various other assorted undead. Sue, an ex-ambulance driver, is tough, smart and determined to rescue her daughter. With its rural New England setting, this horror-fest pays respectful, clever homage to Stephen King's backyard. The author adds his own fresh supernatural twists to what starts out as a conventional suspense thriller. Readers will anxiously await his next outing. (Oct.)
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved. --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.
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Top Customer Reviews
Like I said before, the plot is straight forward: woman looking for daughter, maniac calling woman and teasing her, woman screaming and promising to kill maniac...blah blah blah, we've all read these kinds of stories before. The woman's refusal to listen to said maniac and constantly threatening him is annoying; because he's the one holding all the cards. Of course he can say and do whatever he wants. The gripping part of the story is that he sends her on this bizarre scavanger hunt through these tiny towns in the middle of the night in a snow storm. There is a nice supernatural element to the story which really peaks near the end, and once revealed you'll be surprised that you didn't piece it together sooner. Even though it starts off predictable and boring, it's not, far from it. Just be patient with the first ten pages.
The story is about a wealthy divorcee one night returning home from work to get a call from a man stating he has kidnapped her child (and the nanny). From this point on our protagonist is then, if she is to see her child again, placed on a wild goose chase back to her childhood hometown (about 60 miles west) on the request of our antagonist. As the story moves along we get a number of frightful, bizarre, and maybe even supernatural events that occur as she drives from the town of her childhood to the seacoast of Cape Anne, Massachusetts. A hidden past and the connection of a serial killer even may be behind all of this.
Though the novel moved very quick, the huge fault of this book was the inability of myself, the reader, to have a suspension of disbelief in how our protagonist acts when confronted with her many set pieces that she encounters. When something that is possibly or even probably supernatural occurs, she acts as if it was normal, where the author even uses our antagonist as exposition in explaining why he chose her. So, yeah, okay, she's able to accept things of the complete bizarre with little problems at all. When our protagonist finds people that are murdered that she knows or cares for, she's almost matter-of-fact about it. When animals that she thought were dead and then suddenly once again are alive, she is not taken aback. When she sees deserted ghost towns in Massachusetts she acts not all too surprised.
There is even flaws in the story where she is told not to speak to the police, or her child will be killed. But when she is arrested at one point, she spills the beans on everything. Then the antagonist goes about as if it was okay. At points the antagonist gives complete exposition of his whole reasoning almost to the point you could see him as a James Bond villian telling his entire plan and our hero escaping to vanquish him. And the town statue of an important person in the town squares of the places she goes seem almost ludicrous since we discover that the honored person was a murdering sociopath. In today's day and age, a statue of one time heroes that actually have done some good are removed never mind someone that is known to be evil.
The ending of the story was so ridiculous and typical of B-movie type novels that the whole ending was projected, including the required police sirens in the distance approaching. The only good part was the last chapter and not because it worked, but more so because it was negative; something needed since the story simply couldn't have a happy ending because what had occurred prior.
Would I recommend this book? To be honest, I cannot say no. It was a quick read. And if you are able to suspend disbelief better than I, you'll like it. The writing is generally good in flow. So it is probably worth a read, just don't get your hopes up as I did prior to reading the first chapter.
First, I didn't really care much about the protagonist, Sue. Instead of developing a background for the character that could give a reader a chance to empathize with her, the book opens with an action scene - one that rivaled the "Perils of Penelope, almost comical, no less. The character does lose most of her bumbling proclivities later on in the book.
The back story does unfold within the text of the book, but hacks the story into pieces. For instance, Sue goes into a kind of fugue state to remember exactly what happened in their childhood that instigates the story. The problem is she does it right in the middle of an action scene. One that should have been a thriller/horror piece of the story.
Since the events were several years apart, perhaps this book would have benefited with a prologue detailing the events of childhood to fix the first two observances here.
Then there are the metaphors, long flowery ones, sometimes as long as a paragraph or two. They're fine and original as they stand, but they are plunked down in the middle of or immediately following an action scene. Pretty much deflating the horror/thriller aspect of it. Such metaphors should be used during more contemplative parts of a story, of which there were very few in this book.
Finally, I found the epilog less than satisfying. The character did not seem to change or learn much after her ordeal.
Too bad. This could have been a 5-star book with a little content editing.