Thursday, August 13, 2009

Killer Summer, by Ridley Pearson

Beach Reading Contest Book #7

Ridley Pearson's Killer Summer is his third book featuring Walt Fleming, the sheriff of Sun Valley, a small Idaho resort town. I'm always hesitant about starting a series partway in, but I found Killer Summer both totally comprehensible and tremendously entertaining.

When the rich and famous start pouring into Sun Valley to attend its annual wine auction, Walt learns that the star of this year's event is a set of wine bottles allegedly given by Thomas Jefferson to John Adams, and therefore worth millions—if they're authentic. Walt, who has taken his nephew on a fly-fishing trip, is praying everything will go off without a hitch, but those hopes are dashed when a bomb goes off just before the auction kicks into gear, and his peaceful day on the water turns into a blur of fake identities, kidnappings, and elaborate heists.

Killer Summer is much more of a suspense novel than a mystery, but the violence is surprisingly minimal. Instead, Pearson fills his pages with at least three storylines, which meet halfway through the novel in a fun (but somewhat far-fetched) flurry of coincidences. There are aspects of the novel that I probably would have enjoyed more if I'd read the previous books in the series—the emotional impact of Walt's romantic life fell particularly flat, seeing as I barely knew the candidate for his affections—but the lion's share of this novel works beautifully as a standalone thriller.

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