North of Nowhere
North of Nowhere, the latest standalone thriller from the master of suspense author Allison Brennan, is a story about survival – survival from the elements and survival from a past threatening the future. Set in the middle of a harsh Montana winter, Brennan drops her characters into the midst of a mountainous wilderness in a raging blizzard and charges them with surviving. If the catastrophic storm doesn’t present enough of a life or death situation, the deranged killer closing in on two scared children lost in the storm will.
Tony Reed’s been hiding his two godchildren for five long years, keeping them safe from their crime boss father Boyd McIntrye and their deceptively controlling grandmother Frankie. Eleven-year-old Kristin was traumatized after witnessing the murder of her mother before Tony took her, along with her younger deaf brother Ryan, and disappeared. When Tony awakens now sixteen-year-old Kristin in the middle of the night, she asks no questions knowing immediately they’ve been found. Grabbing their always packed escape bags, Tony, Kristin and Ryan execute their plan B for escape. Taking his bosses small plane, Tony hopes to get away unseen, but as he attempts takeoff shots are fired hitting him and the plane. He manages to lift off only to crash in a lake a few miles short of their destination. When it’s clear he won’t make it, Tony quickly improvises and instructs Kristin to take Ryan and their supplies and hike the rest of the way to their secret remote cabin. Time is critical as a massive snow storm is descending on the mountains and their father Boyd and his armed men are coming for them. Tony has trained Kristin in all the elements of survival including how to handle a weapon. She’ll kill or be killed before returning to the forbidding prison of her father and grandmother’s home.
North of Nowhere is a highly atmospheric, fast-paced thriller with a large cast of players. The landscape and weather play a starring role in the story as characters are charged with surviving a blinding blizzard in the middle of nowhere in subzero temperatures. Brennan does a fantastic job of pulling readers into said wilderness to join the desperate search for the two missing children in a race against time to save their lives – from both the elements and the various highly motivated people determined to catch them before someone else does. The story is rendered through multiple points of view giving readers a well-rounded viewpoint into the motivations driving several key characters. A tension laden plot line is propelled by a dire tone of impending disaster as the story covers a period of only forty-eight hours from beginning to end. During this time, the author accentuates the power of family – whether by blood or choice, control, loss, regret . . . and survival of the fittest.
Brutally harsh at times, North of Nowhere is an immensely engaging thriller with enough unforeseen twists and turns to keep fans of the genre turning pages. I enjoyed the audiobook version narrated by Eliza Foss. Highly recommended to readers who love extraordinarily atmospheric suspense thrillers with a heavy side of family drama.