“ Genre: Crime / Thriller / Author: Audrey Brown / ISBN: 0547858647 / Publication Date: 2012 / Publisher: Mariner Books „
This is Audrey Braun's first novel and it is published by Amazon encore, who claim to source "exceptional yet overlooked books" presumably from previously unpublished authors. New authors are always a bit of a risk (the first book is rarely their best work) but something about the synopsis appealed to me.
Celia Donnelly is married to Jonathan, the president of an American bank and has a teenage son called Oliver. Jonathan spontaneously organises a holiday to Mexico for them which seems just what is needed as their marriage is strained and their son becoming distant and mono-syllabic. Early on in the trip (and the book) Celia is abducted from the beach, but this is no ordinary abduction as when she comes round in a strange room, her original abductor is tied to a chair beside her. It becomes apparent quite early on (to us, if not to Celia) that her husband has something to do with it.
If I had to pigeon-hole this book into a genre I would go for 'romantic thriller'. Whilst the action is not as frantic as some action/thriller type books I have read before, there generally was enough pace to keep the book flowing and, for the most part, I was suitably intrigued and caught up in the story to keep turning the pages. I do have a number of niggles however. The main one is the romance aspect. Calling it 'romance' may be a bit of a stretch on my part, it is more like 'erotica-lite'. I didn't find it particularly titillating and didn't really feel that it fitted in with the story. If you are being pursued through the Mexican jungle by people with guns, I can't imagine many people would be thinking about getting it on with the hot, Latin lustmuffin that may or may not have been involved in your abduction. However this is a small aspect of the book, and doesn't really detract from the main events.
My other niggles come a bit later in the book, so I have to be a bit vague here so as not to spoil the plot for those that may wish to read it. In the last quarter of the book Celia learns a bit about her family history and I find this a bit far-fetched and too convenient and think this could have been handled better. However, to a certain degree I think that the reader has to accept that this is the nature of the genre - it wouldn't be a pacey, action thriller if things happened in a real-life time frame and if there weren't a few handy coincidences to keep the story going. In this particular instance however, I think the author could have come up with a better plot device. There were also a few minor loose ends I would have liked being tied up at the end.
As a main character, Celia wasn't too bad. She was normal with flaws if not relatable (at least by me), I detest 'perfect' heroines that are beautiful, clever and rich. Normal women are far more interesting, but whilst the Celia we meet seems quite capable and strong, the Celia of old which is referred to is quite weak. I found that character differentiation a bit frustrating: that she should suddenly be so capable, when previously she was a bit pathetic but I can live with it. Other characters aren't drawn in detail, and again I think this the nature of the genre - there isn't the time to build up supporting characters if you want to keep the plot going. I did enjoy Celia's relationship with her son, I thought that was quite well done, but her husband didn't come across as believable. The aforementioned Latin lustmuffin and another friend she meets were nothing more than two-dimensional, and in the case of the former, this could have been done better, as he was a bit too good to be true.
Braun's writing style is unpretentious and accessible, if not quite polished. She has the knack of getting you to turn the pages, and leaving you hanging at the end of her chapters, so that you think you'll carry on for just one more. Chapters are fairly short (often less than 10 pages) and punchy to help keep the pace up and she has used them effectively. Whilst it seems that I have been quite critical of the book above, I did generally enjoy it. It is by no means perfect but there is some good writing here and I would certainly be interested in reading some of Ms Braun's future work.
If you have read thrillers and action style books in the past then you will be aware that you need to suspend your disbelief to a certain extent when reading this genre. If you are happy doing this then I think you may enjoy this book. I liked the fact that there was a female heroine for a change and certainly Braun has come up with enough of the goods to mark her out as an author to watch.