Wednesday, March 20, 2019


CASSIE CLARK: OUTLAW by Brian Falkner (One Tree House, 2018)

Reviewed by Alyson Baker

Cassie has survived a hit and run but now she hears her father has disappeared - supposedly run off with a news reporter. As a senior congressman and Speaker of the House, her father is an important player in the tense world of American politics. Cassie knows he would not walk away from his career or his family and she is determined to find out what really happened. But there are bigger players who are equally determined to stop her, and she no longer has a security detail ...I  am outside the law. And I'm coming for you. 

In the high-stakes world of politics and business, who can she trust?

Cassie Clark is an eighteen-year-old university literature student with a depressed mother, a prickly younger sister, a great friend called Jackson from Jackson, Mississippi, and a bodyguard. She is still recovering in hospital from being knocked off her bike when Cam, the bodyguard, tells her that her Speaker of the House of Representatives father has gone missing.

Cassie refuses to believe the reports that her father’s disappearance is connected to an infidelity, and she and Cam do a bit of investigating. But when Ethan Arbuckle, the husband of the journalist her father is supposed to have had an affair with who has also disappeared, sneaks her a note: trust no one, both Cassie and the reader start double guessing everyone’s motives.

Cassie enlists her mate Jackson, and his friend who is a conspiracy theorist and computer geek, to help her work out what story Janice Arbuckle might have been working on that made her a target. And she unearths a conspiracy theory of massive proportions, centred on agents so powerful they seem unassailable.

Cassie is loyal to her mother, despite her depression making her quite unpleasant, and to her sister whose vindictiveness is bottomless. But she inadvertently puts them, and her friends, in great peril, as she is determined to get to the bottom of the plot, which doesn’t end with her father, but reaches up to the highest echelons of US politics.

“I got brains. I got the ability to figure stuff out, to solve problems.” And Cassie does, without Cam, without Jackson, she battles on – and it comes in handy that she has done gymnastics and Kendo training! CASSIE CLARK: OUTLAW is full-on action; dams and bridges blowing up, forests set alight, snipers shooting through windows … yet Cassie still finds moments to ponder the beauty of the Joshua tree desert in the starlight, and to have regrets she didn’t recognise the writing talent of her sister, or the loneliness of her mother.

Despite the outlandish plot and daring actions of Cassie, the reader is drawn along, even Cassie is shocked at the pace: “I can’t believe that just a few weeks ago I was worrying about my end-of-year exams and my weight.” And she negotiates some pretty hairy situations, including having to make a snap decision which of two extremely important people to save.

CASSIE CLARK: OUTLAW is a YA novel, the language is quaintly softened (although it doesn’t avoid violence or death), and Cassie has a bit of a crush on Cam, but it would suit anyone of any age who likes a good adventure/thriller. And there is a big hint that there will be more Cassie Clark adventures to come.

Alyson Baker is a crime-loving librarian in Nelson. This review first appeared on her blog, which you can check out here

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