Saturday, August 13, 2011

Write to Die by Kat Harwood

Publisher:             Red Roar Press

Jodie is an agent for a publishing house in London, so she's read many manuscripts, but none like the one she takes home with her one night. Details from her life begin to appear in the story and take a terrifying turn as the brother of the main character is kidnapped, tortured and murdered. 

As events that appeared in the story begin to occur in reality, panic sets in when Jodie cannot make contact with her brother Jed. She soon realizes that part of the manuscript is written in a special code used by her family to play games when she was a child, and Jed is sending a message that his life is in danger. As Jodie tries to find a way to save her brother, a mystery created before they were born could get them both killed. Jodie turns to her ex-lover to help her as she dodges surveillance and men who are pursuing her. 

Eventually, the action takes Jodie to North Africa, Spain and Italy, as she leaves a trail of dead and broken bodies in her wake. Friends appear who want to help Jodie, but all she can remember are the final warning words from her Aunt Peg who knows more of the mystery than anyone, "Trust no one." Caught up in a whirl of religious fanatics, antiquities thieves and surrounded by people she can't be sure of, Jodie focuses only on rescuing her family and lifting the burden of the mystery from them once and for all. 

Write to Die is a gripping mystery. The tension builds steadily with Jodie's fear and confusion. Before long, the reader becomes as suspicious as Jodie is of every character no matter how helpful the person seems to be. The story is built in stages so that when one problem is solved Jodie and the reader are suddenly propelled into another problem at a high level of danger. 

Character development is kept to a minimum for everyone while the story lasers in on the details of the mystery. Even Jodi and her ex-lover Toni, who appear more than anyone, are kept to only what is necessary for the story. References are made to past experience, but there are no digressions to detract from the events that are important. 

It may be a bit simplistic that a group of amateurs is able to accomplish all of the cloak and dagger activities that they get into, but the action makes up for it. The strength of the book is that, even after much of what is happening is revealed, there are still plenty of surprises to come so that the tension carries on to practically the final page. One interesting quirk is that almost no one in the book has a last name that is used.

Mystery and suspense fans will find this book very satisfying. Romance fans will be disappointed that there is little of that with only one brief sex scene, but the action and strength of the story make up for that. Write to Die is a good one to put on your reading list.

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