CFBA Tour – Dead Reckoning


Isn’t that a GREAT cover?

Dead Reckoning, published by Abingdon Press, is the debut novel by talented writer Ronie Kendig. By my way of reckoning, this adult novel falls into an unusual category—romantic thriller. It’s unusual, I think, because of expectations. Readers who enjoy romance aren’t expected to enjoy thrillers, and vice versa. But think Indiana Jones, and you’ll have an idea what this book is like.

The Story.
Rather than an archaeology professor, Dead Reckoning features an archaeology student, Shiloh Blake, who specializes in underwater recovery. In the midst of an important dive off the coast of India, Shiloh’s two companions who remained topside are gunned down. One is killed, the other wounded.

Shiloh is able to drag Khalid, her best friend, to safety and signal for help. When the authorities meet with her in the hospital, however, she suspects they are not police as they said.

So begins the adventure that takes her into the world of spies and secret agents, and eventually into the arms of the one man she thinks she can trust.

Strengths.
Author Deborah Piccurelli said “Dead Reckoning moves at the pace of an action-adventure movie,” and I think that’s true. Lots of intrigue, clues, connections, danger, and narrow escapes. For the most part Ronie makes these scenes believable. The opening in particular had me on the edge of my seat wondering who was shooting at college students even as I admired the heroine’s quick thinking and courage in the face of the danger.

The protagonist Shiloh Blake is a smart, caring young woman, though she’s been emotionally wounded and has trust issues, especially when it comes to men. Because of her, I want to follow all the exploits and dangers that entangle her.

Weaknesses.
With so much going on, I think it’s not surprising that some threads seem to get dropped. One in particular seems to be ignored until the latter part of the book, but then it is picked up only to be dropped again.

There’s a writing instruction book adage that if an author puts a gun on the mantle, he’d better have some character use it before the end of the book. Unfortunately, I thought there were a number of “unused guns,” and I felt myself wondering why some things that seemed important the way they were painted in the initial scenes weren’t revisited. (I don’t want to give details because I don’t want to spoil the story for anyone).

I realize that fans of thrillers probably care less about these details, but mystery fans like myself are always looking for clues, so I found the dropped threads disappointing.

Now to the romance. I haven’t read widely in this genre, but I think Ronie has all the elements necessary. My one problem here was that at particularly tense moments when action was fast and fear high, there were romantic interludes that didn’t seem realistic. I would rather have seen those slipped in when the characters wouldn’t have been trying to avoid death. 😉 (And don’t get me wrong. There were romantic scenes at more appropriate places, too.)

Recommendation.
This is a tough one. I think women who love romance will enjoy this book, but men who like thrillers? I’m not sure they’ll want the romance, which shares almost equal weight in the story, I think. Of course, if you love both, then this is definitely the book for you.

Special thanks to Abingdon Press for providing a review copy of Dead Reckoning without cost.

Published in: on March 17, 2010 at 4:28 pm  Comments (3)  
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