Wednesday 21 April 2010

Book review : Hand of Fate - Lis Wiehl

When Jim Fate, controversial radio talk-show host, receives a package in the mail containing a canister of deadly gas, the whole of downtown Portland is evacuated as everyone assumes it's another terrorist attack using sarin gas. The scenes of mass panic in the opening pages of this novel are chilling. Children are separated from their parents, people are trampled to death, hospitals are soon overflowing with patients succombing to their psychosomatic symptoms. But there are also a few everyday heroes, looking out for those too weak to get out by themselves, which is a heartwarming echo of the acts of human kindness of tragedies like 9/11.

But once the mass hysteria dies down, it's time to get down to the real problem of finding the killer. That's easier said that done because Jim has a lot of enemies, ranging from co-workers to people who didn't share his views to listeners he openly ridiculed on air. Although it was interesting enough to follow the investigation, I found that the high drama and emotion of the opening scenes quickly fizzled out.

The "Triple Threat" trio of friends - Federal Prosecutor Allison Pierce, FBI Special Agent Nicole Hedges and crime reporter Cassidy Shaw - who come together to unravel the case, will appeal to lovers of chick lit. They all have their own personal dramas to deal with - date rape, miscarriage, prescription drug addiction - which helps readers to bond with them, but I felt that these issues, along with some others like the questioning of faith at the end, were glossed over. They could have been developed to a much greater level and really added some depth to the characters but it almost seemed as if they had been thrown in as an afterthought or possibly almost entirely edited out. I found myself wondering if this was a chick-lit novel pretending to be a crime novel or a crime novel blatantly trying to appeal to the female market.

That said, it's an enjoyable enough read that will keep you guessing right up until the final pages - and even then, you'll probably still be wrong !

star rating : 3.5/5

RRP: £16.99

Hardcover: 320 pages
Publisher: Thomas Nelson (1 Mar 2010)
ISBN-10: 1595547061
ISBN-13: 978-1595547064

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