While the focus of this site is simply books that are fun to read, that you can escape into for a few hours before having to return to the real world, it seems as though all of the books are gravitating towards science fiction, fantasy, and horror. So, when I heard about Ridley Pearson’s newest novel, Killer Summer, I jumped at the change to add another thriller to the few that are already on here. I first ventured into Pearson’s fiction with The Diary of Ellen Rimbauer: My Life at Rose Red (see review), but this was my first opportunity to venture into his non-tie-in fiction, diving into his series of novels following Sherriff Walt Fleming.
Walt Fleming seems perpetually busy, exemplified as his fishing trip with his nephew Kevin is interrupted by a grand theft auto in progress. As they chase down the criminals, Walt falls into something far larger than he thought, and as one man dies, the complex web expands into a heist of epic proportions. Famed crook Christopher Cantell is at the head of a plot to steal a case of Thomas Jefferson’s wine, worth millions, and no one can stop him except Walt.
However, things fly away from Walt’s plans, and his nephew and the daughter of a rich wannabe film producer are kidnapped, upping the stakes substantially. Walt has to deal with his brother’s suicide, his wife’s desertion, and raising his two daughters, all while hoping to catch a mastermind thief.
Pearson creates a small kernel of a story that explodes in all directions, with characters’ stories moving as far apart as they possibly can, before, in one deft stroke, he wraps it all back together, creating a conclusion that is both satisfying and believable. His characters are spot on, accurate beyond most authors’ abilities, and the story is tight, with no baggage.
There is little not to like in this novel. Pearson delivers a thriller that left me with the unshakable feeling of returning to home, as he fills his book with a sense of warmth and comfort that would seem completely counter to his goal of a deadly, rough crime world, yet he does so with aplomb. It is rare to connect so fully to a story that you don’t want to leave it, yet as the pages fly by you can’t stop turning. Pearson achieves this, leaving you with lasting thoughts, and begging for a sequel to follow up soon. One hopes that Walt’s life with settle down a bit, but at the same time you don’t, just so that you have an excuse to return to see him once again.