Thursday, December 24, 2015
Review: RUNNING TOWARDS DANGER
Reviewed by Karen Chisholm
Karen's life is abruptly thrown into chaos when her flatmate is gunned down in front of her in the street where they live. Within days she is forced to take drastic action to ensure her own safety. She criss-crosses New Zealand to evade the killers, changes her appearance and settles into a small community as 'Cara'. But danger still stalks her ...
The central premise of RUNNING TOWARDS DANGER is a fascinating idea. What would you do if the flatmate that you knew very little about, and saw even less of, is suddenly gunned down in front of you, and the investigation into his death starts to reveal some very worrying facts about his life? Which again, you knew nothing about, but everybody, including the police, don’t believe you.
Would it be to suddenly go into hiding, head off into a small community and try to settle into that world using a different name (Cara), in the hopes that dropping off the radar will ease the threat? You can definitely imagine that somebody might panic and run to friends / family / somewhere you feel safe, but into the unknown?
Whether or not you can accept that Karen / Cara does exactly that, and with, it has to be said, a considerable level of expertise and prescience of mind, will be a large part of the key to whether or not RUNNING TOWARDS DANGER will work for you. That and whether you think the idea that the mysterious appearance of a man that she instantly becomes attracted to whilst simultaneously worrying he might be one of the bad guys fits with everything else you’ve found out about Karen/Cara up until that point.
As you can probably tell this reader wasn’t 100% convinced by some elements, and thoroughly hooked by others. Definitely feeling the urge to cheer for Cara (let’s settle for that name), there was something odd about much of the setup of this novel at the same time. Not the idea that she would be so clever as to effect the getaway - to change her identity, to find somewhere safe, and somewhere she can fit in. But that somehow this same woman, with the brains and guts to actually do all of that, then dithers around over the sudden appearance of a bloke who may or may not be one of the bad guys. Especially as readers will probably be forming some pretty good theories about what’s going on by then.
To be fair though, the plot elements as they are were tightly delivered and there’s a good sense of pace, and menace, if you’re prepared to forgive some of the wilful ignoring going on. There’s a twist in the tail which fits perfectly into the build up, playing fair with readers who like to play the guessing game. All in all, an interesting character study and premise, that would work well if you’re happy to head any disbelief off at the pass and bury it in a deep hole.
Karen Chisholm is one of Australia's leading crime reviewers. She created Aust Crime Fiction in 2006, a terrific resource - please check it out. Karen also reviews for Newtown Review of Books, and is a Judge of the Ngaio Marsh Award for Best Crime Novel. She kindly shares her reviews of crime and thriller novels written by New Zealanders on Crime Watch as well as on Aust Crime Fiction.