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Killer View


Killer View

Ridley Pearson brings Sheriff Walt Fleming back on duty in KILLER VIEW, the second novel in his new serial procedurals (following 2007’s KILLER WEEKEND). Walt is struggling to be a single father to two little girls, maintain a livable space, keep food in the house and do his job in an election year. His small department at work is shorthanded and much falls to him when things get rough.

A terrible blizzard is quickly covering Sun Valley's Galena Summit, bringing freezing weather with no let-up in sight. Then a hysterical phone call from someone claiming that a member of his team didn't get back with their group disrupts the men who now have to tackle the darkness, the cold and the mounting mounds of snow. Walt goes into high gear and calls his best men to help him search for the lost skier: deputy Tommy Brandon and the Aker brothers, local veterinarians Mark and Randy. They all suit up, gather the search dogs and begin the treacherous climb to where the caller said he thinks his friend was last seen. They start out thinking that this will be just another rescue.

The team is working slowly due to the freak October snowstorm that has descended upon Blaine County, which is making the unforgiving land almost impassable. Between wearing skis and snowshoes, they make slow progress as they begin to get weary and wet. In this kind of weather the only way to get to their destination is to ski as far as they can. But as the snow grows deeper, their snowshoes are needed to help them make their way. The weight of their backpacks along with their extra equipment makes for an uncertain sense of safety. But these men are experienced, and the dogs are the best.

Then, a crack! Was that a tree limb snapping, or a shot? Walt begins to ask himself if he is imagining things like popping noises and maybe barely a glance of what might have been a human shadow. No, he's just a little spooked, he thinks as he trudges along in thigh-high snow. This is when the real action begins…

Randy Aker goes on ahead, disappearing into the darkness and the unrelenting falling snow. As they have to slow down on the upward parts of the land, the optimism they tried to hold on to slowly melts away. Unbelievably they must travel for hours under these conditions, and when they get to the bottom of the runoff, where Randy was headed, they are stunned to find him dead. He either fell (seems impossible) or was pushed off the cliff (more likely, but by whom?). The small group of friends and co-workers are devastated by this turn of events.

"Investigations could spiral out of control. Walt did his best to keep things simple. But the more threads that were added, the more tangled they became. Randy Aker…had died, possibly because he was mistaken for [his brother]. Mark had run away, been found, and then abducted. A test tube had been left on Walt's back porch --- a water sample that tested positive for low-level radiation. A CDC investigation had looked into [a local] bottled-water company." After two years the water was deemed clean.

Walt senses that Mark knows something about the water and other strange happenings rumored to take place in the hills. He tries to reach him the next day, but Mark is nowhere to be found. After looking everywhere he can think of, it doesn't take long for Walt to figure out that Mark has been kidnapped. Could he have found out something more about the water? Or is it something else that makes him a threat to someone?

While all of this is unfolding, another ghastly crime is taking place. Kira Tulivich, the assistant to the vets, has been kidnapped, tortured, badly beaten, drugged and raped. Her captors think she knows things about the water problem and the sheep. She knows nothing and suffers dreadfully. Taylor Crabtree, one of the town's "bad boys," finds her as high as a kite but manages to rescue her. Because he has a bad reputation, he's too frightened to do more than drop her off at the hospital. As she recovers, she is able to name her attackers. But catching them is another story.

Add to this a survival group with some kind of eerie connection to the veterinarians, now one dead and the other missing. The case becomes even more complex when more people pop up on the radar --- some of the wealthiest folks with a lot of clout, for example, a U.S. Senator who wants to get Walt out of town and take a job in Washington --- and into this mix comes Roy Coates like a bad odor. His partner in crime is also a vile and sadistic person capable of doing terrible things to others.

And then there's Fiona. She is a photographer who is asked by Walt to take some photos for him. Walt is an experienced pilot, and even though his license is suspended, he is allowed to take a glider up into the ether. His destination is a secret government installation where getting rid of radioactive waste and other scary things takes place. The air space is off limits to everyone, and uniformed men force them out of the sky, one in a helicopter and the other in a military plane. How long will it take for Walt to get them out of this jam?

Ultimately the crimes are solved, leaving Walt Fleming and his crew to do some soul searching. KILLER VIEW is not just an ordinary suspense/thriller; it has a unique human dimension not often found in similar novels. This reinforces Ridley Pearson's goal when he writes, as he described it in an interview: I want "to give something back to the reader." His characters are real and act like everyday people with problems. But the nature of the book demands that some of the problems be extraordinary and go way beyond the everyday. Their dialogue has the ring of reality --- people do talk like they do. And their humanity is present on every page, except those occupied by the bad guys.

KILLER VIEW is a taut and intriguing thriller that will keep readers riveted. It's perfect for reading in one's backyard or on a vacation.

Reviewed by Barbara LipkienGershenbaum on January 22, 2011

Killer View
by Ridley Pearson

  • Publication Date: July 15, 2008
  • Genres: Fiction, Thriller
  • Hardcover: 352 pages
  • Publisher: Putnam Adult
  • ISBN-10: 0399155058
  • ISBN-13: 9780399155055