This one did. When I first heard about Desolation Sound, a novel by Fraser C. Heston and Heather McAdams, I was immediately intrigued. Anything involving serial killers is an automatic. I could chat about psychopaths all day. Set in the Pacific Northwest? Even better. Rain is super spooky. The killer targets runners? Blond runners? Yikes! Now I can't look away. And just to add intrigue, Fraser C. Heston is the son of the late Charlton Heston. Hello, I've seen "The Ten Commandments." It's not everyday you can say Charlton Heston's son sent you a book.
The nice people at Agamemnon Films did just that. I read - no devoured it - within two days. A definitely page-turner, Desolation Sound is based on a true still-unsolved mystery: running shoes with feet still in them keep washing up on shore in the Gulf Islands of British Columbia. Retired detective Jack Harris happens to discover foot #13, bringing him into the somewhat political, sexist world of the Royal Canadian Mounted Police. Were the feet a result of tragic accidents or foul play? Do the Mounties always get their man?
Right from the start, I was hooked. In the second scene, Liz MacDonald, an up-and-coming star in the RMCP, is used for bait to catch an alleged rapist that attacks runners in one of the community's parks. She just happens to fit the profile. The scene plays out like one of my worst nightmares: you're out for your morning run when you notice someone behind you. A guy in a hoodie. He start to chase...but as much as you try, you can't get away. Eeeeeee. I would have liked to know more about what kind of shoes Liz was wearing and her pace, but that's just me being a runner nerd.
If that wasn't chilling enough, during a particularly gruesome scene, the novel narrates from the killer's point of view as he is about to dismember his latest victim:
"Runners have a special quality...they are fighters. They are half nuts. Who is their right mind ignores shin splints and their IT band to push through a seven-mile run? Runners. That's why he loves them so much."
It gets worse.
(but honestly, seven miles? I would kill for a seven miler these days.)
"He liked long-distance runners. Marathoners. Half-marathoners. Blond women who need that run to survive. To be able to blank whatever stresses they have running thought their pretty little heads. The type of girl for whom running is oxygen. Who gets antsy is she can't got for a run."
The whole time I was reading this, I kept thinking, "Why blond? Why can't you go for a brunette? A sprinter? A dude?? Ahhhhh!!!"
Yes, technically it's fiction, but this was hitting a little too close to home.
Ever so savvy, victims were found on Facebook when they'd disclose their running route. Chills went down my spine. Reading this (in horror) the night before a Saturday long run, I literally reached over and reset my alarm at that very moment. More sunlight, less darkness, and let's run a new route. Disclosing my new course only to Brian, he took my jitters in stride, promising to not tell a soul as well as alert the authorities the moment I went missing.
After the whole fence incident, I'm taking no chances.
I judge a book by its ability to make me feel. This one succeeded admirably. Taut, suspenseful, and with enough twists and turns to keep you guessing until the very end, Desolation Sound is a solid narrative with sound character development. It strikes just the right balance between action, horror and drama. Best of all, you don't have to be a "half-nuts" runner to enjoy it; if you like a well-crafted, creepy psychological thriller, this is the book for you. That is, unless you are a blond distance runner who spooks easily. Then, you may want to play it safe and find a running buddy - or save the book for daylight hours.
Big thanks to Shannon, Fraser and Heather for the advanced copy.
Agamemnon Films; Paperback, ebook
On sale August 11, 2015, Amazon.com
200 pages / $9.99 paper, $4.99 ebook / ISBN-13: 978-1514193945