15 Seconds by Andrew Gross is a fast-paced thriller filled with twists (available July 10, 2012).
Usually in a thriller, you’re confronted with a sort of “Dr. Evil” character, someone intent on destroying the world, or at least the hero’s own, private world. Most of the time, you have a very good idea who that is, or at least why.
One of the most intriguing things about 15 Seconds is that nothing makes sense for probably the first half of the book. There are two stories running simultaneously—the story of a father whose daughter has gone to jail because she killed a woman and her baby by running them over while high on Oxy. The father is working his way up the drug dealer ladder in a violent, bloody rampage.
The second story is the one that’s the more emotionally gripping at the start. It focuses on Henry Steadman, a doctor who gets a bit lost on his way to a medical conference and winds up in a puzzling confrontation with the cops who have pulled him over for a simple traffic violation.
“Go ahead,” I said, sinking back into the seat, “write me up if you have to. But I didn’t drive down a one-way street. And I do have a right to state my innocence. It’s not fair to just keep telling me—”
“That’s it! I warned you!” Martinez took a step back. “Get out of the car!”
“What?” I looked at him in disbelief.
“I said get out of the car, sir. Now!” There was no negotiation in his hard, gray eyes. It all just escalated in seconds. Later, I couldn’t even recall who had actually opened the door, him or me. But the next thing I knew I was out on the street, spun face-first against the car and roughly, with my hands twisted behind me.
“Hey. . . ”
“Sir, you are under arrest and your vehicle is being impounded,” Martinez barked from behind me.
More cops show up. More puzzling questions and violent accusations. Eventually, the other cops leave and Martinez agrees to let Steadman off with a warning. No sooner does this occur, however, than Martinez is murdered right in front of Steadman . . . who’s now the prime suspect. He figures he needs a lawyer, so he calls an attorney friend, but by the time he gets to his buddy’s house, the man is dead.
And things just get worse for poor Henry Steadman. Every twist leaves you—and Henry—more confused, but more anxious to know who’s setting him up and why.
And then there’s Vance, the dealer-killing dad. What the heck does a man who tortures guys with welding torches and strings them up and beats them to death have to do with either an overly aggressive, murdered cop or an upright, charity-focused (if a bit snobbish) doctor?
You’ll have to read it to find out . . . the roller coaster is worth the price of admission.
Laura K. Curtis lives in Westchester, N.Y., with her husband and two madcap Irish Terriers who’ve taught her how easily love can co-exist with the desire to kill. She blogs at Women of Mystery and maintains an online store at TorchSongs GlassWorks. She can also be found on Twitter and poking her nose into all sorts of trouble in various spots around the web.
Read all posts by Laura K. Curtis on Criminal Element.