Sunday, March 27, 2016


EVERY FEAR by Rick Mofina (Mira, 2010)

Reviewed by Craig Sisterson

A mother takes her baby son to the store, turns her back for a moment, only to find his stroller empty. Reporter Jason Wade is under huge pressure to land a big story, and the kidnapping could be it. Meanwhile a detective investigates a grisly murder, and parallels with the kidnapping start to arise... 

Much like many hyper-talented Australian and New Zealand crime writers can be hard to find instore or in the media in the northern hemisphere, Canada is packed with talented mystery wordsmiths who often get overlooked relative to less-talented but more heavily promoted counterparts from the UK and USA.

One Canuck author that really grabbed me by the throat from the initial pages is Rick Mofina. Despite plenty of overseas acclaim, his work didn't start filtering downunder until a few years ago.

In late 2010 I read THE DYING HOUR, Mofina's first Jason Wade thriller, in less than a day. It was an absorbing, fast-paced read that offered plenty on the character front as well. Despite having dozens of great books waiting on my TBR shelf, I immediately picked up the second in the series, EVERY FEAR, and devoured it in even less time. One of those 'stay up at night until it's finished' novels.

After making his bones as an atypical rookie reporter in THE DYING HOUR, Wade now finds himself working at the Seattle Mirror, but desperately in need of a big story as the newspaper market tightens. When Dylan Colson is kidnapped from outside a store while his loving mother is momentarily distracted, then involved in a hit-and-run and left for dead, it seems Jason's prayers may have been answered. It's the sort of human interest tragedy a reporter lives for, even while hoping it will have a happy ending. But some of the pieces don't add up. The Colsons are high-school sweethearts, hard-working but not rich. A loving, ordinary suburban couple with no real problems. Why would someone kidnap their baby?

Things get more bizarre as Wade and Detective Grace Garner, who's been investigating a grisly murder, find threads that may connect the kidnapping and murder. But why would an abducted baby be tied into Seattle's grimy criminal underground peppered with hookers and drugs? As time begins to run out, Wade and Garner find themselves up against a brutal and very dangerous perpetrator.

Much like with the first Jason Wade tale, in EVERY FEAR Mofina crafts a cracking white-knuckler of a crime tale that also delivers on the character front. I was engrossed on both an intellectual and emotional level. Mofina induced me to not only be intrigued to find out how things would unfold, but also to care about the characters, to feel for them while I was following them.

For those who aren't familiar with Mofina's work, I'd say he delivers world-class crime writing that would be particularly enjoyed by those who love fast-paced, high-tension tales with well-developed characters, akin to the books of Harlan Coben, Gregg Hurwitz, or Linwood Barclay.

Jason Wade is an imperfect, very human hero. Well-meaning but flawed, he's under pressure from his job and looking to save his career. But we don't just follow things from his perspective - instead Mofina provides us with insights into the investigation from a number of viewpoints, including Detective Garner, Dylan's shell-shocked father, and others. Mofina does a fine job keeping interest high and building tension and suspense to a crescendo even as he switches between characters.

Overall, I found Mofina to be one of those authors who even if you've never read them before, you can immediately tell you're in the hands of a master. It's like going rafting, where you have complete faith in your guide, and strapped in with helmets, life-jacket and paddle, you can fully enjoy all the bumps and thrills of a powerful, fast-flowing river. An energising, invigorating experience.

Mofina is both pulsating river and trusted guide, and we as readers can just sit back and love the ride.

Craig Sisterson is a journalist from New Zealand who writes for a diverse range of magazines and newspapers in several countries. He has interviewed more than 140 crime writers, discussed crime fiction onstage at literary festivals and on national radio, and is the Judging Convenor of the Ngaio Marsh Award for Best Crime Novel. Follow him on Twitter: @craigsisterson 

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