Title: No Exit
Author: Taylor Adams
My rating: ☆☆☆☆☆
Release date: June 25, 2017 (Joffe Books) on Amazon
On my cruise to Central America last month, I loaded up my Kindle Paperwhite with a dozen suspense novels, nearly all of them by independent authors. The story that stays with me one month later is that of the protagonist in “No Exit.”
The setup — the crucible of the story — is simple as can be. Darby, a college student with a mature if slightly jaded outlook on life, becomes stranded at an off-highway rest stop along with four other travelers during a blizzard. As she nears the rustic cabin, for a split second she thinks she sees something strange through the window of a snow-covered van in the parking lot: the hand of a young child trapped inside (no spoiler here — the author reveals this in the Amazon description). Did she really see that through the frosted window, or did she imagine it?
Over the next few hours, Darby engages in a bit of cat and mouse with the other travelers as she tries to play amateur sleuth and tease out whom the van belongs to and which suspects she can rule out (shades of Agatha Christie’s 1939 novel “Ten Little Indians”). From there, things quickly escalate into life-and-death struggles for several of them.
Through it all, we’re left to wonder about whether Darby is making the right choices as she acts on one assumption after another. The thriller builds tension both through the external actions of the characters and through the moral decisions Darby must make along the way as well as the growth she experiences until dire circumstances.
The writing is crisp without being prosaic, the characters are wholly credible and the action is heart-pounding. As they say, it’s a real page-turner.