Saturday, July 29, 2017

Book Review: Say Nothing by Brad Parks

Say Nothing, Brad Parks' first standalone novel outside of the Carter Ross mystery series, is a fast paced, compelling thriller that delivers an unexpected emotional impact. The novel starts with the kidnapping of the twin children of Federal Judge Scott Sampson, a crime orchestrated to force a particular verdict in a particular case. After Sampson performs as requested on a test case, his son is released, but his daughter remains in the hands of the kidnappers, leverage for a ruling on a case involving a pharmaceutical breakthrough. As Sampson and his wife Allison try to maintain a fa├žade of normalcy, they start looking closely at the people around them. No one is above suspicion, not even each other.

Say Nothing is set in southeastern Virginia, in locations ranging from the Middle Peninsula to downtown Norfolk. Parks handles the setting effectively, but never really evokes a sense of the place. The novel isn’t afraid to stretch credibility, sometimes to the breaking point, and like many modern novelist, Parks likes to throw one or two more obstacles into the path of his protagonist than are strictly necessary for the story. He also interrupts a strong first-person narrative with short one-to-two page third-person chapters focusing on the kidnappers, which really don’t add anything substantive. We get all the terror we need from the scenario through the messages and ‘gifts’ sent by the kidnappers. In spite of these minor flaws, Say Nothing offers a well written narrative, compelling characters, and a satisfying resolution. B

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