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Tuesday, October 11, 2016

Debut Thriller Not Quite Thrilling Enough

(Image from Barnes & Noble)

Troy Chance is the only passenger not huddled inside the warmth of the ferry when the unthinkable happens—a small body falls from a passing ship into the frigid waters of Lake Champlain.  No one else seems to have noticed the unfolding tragedy.  Without stopping to think, Troy plunges into the lake, determined to save the child who will surely drown or freeze to death without intervention.  Barely getting them both to shore alive, Troy is dismayed to discover that the young boy she's just rescued refuses to speak.  The few words he does offer are in French.  Even more mysterious is the sweatshirt wrapped around the boy—knotted firmly behind his back, the garment immobilized the child's arms ensuring his fall overboard would be fatal.  Who would do such a monstrous thing?  And why is no one looking for the boy who says his name is Paul?

Reluctant to hand Paul over to the police, Troy takes him to her home in Lake Placid.  As she makes her own inquiries, she finds herself becoming more and more attached to her young charge.  And more and more puzzled.  Why has no one reported the missing child?  When Troy locates Paul's father, she doesn't know what to do.  Can she trust the wealthy and powerful Philippe Dumond?  Or is he responsible for his son's near death?  Troy knows she's more than done her duty, so why is she so hesitant to return Paul to his privileged life?  She can't give up the boy she's come to love as her own until she's absolutely certain he's safe.  But protecting him means Troy is in just as much danger as he is.  Can she save the two of them once again?  Or will a cold-blooded killer finish them both off this time?

Learning to Swim, a debut thriller by Sara J. Henry, begins with a very compelling premise.  Troy's subsequent search for answers keeps the plot moving at a fast enough clip to keep it interesting, despite the fact that our heroine is not the most engaging of characters.  The pool of suspects in the novel is so small that the story's big reveal is not much of a surprise.  Bits of the tale also seem incredibly far-fetched, making the whole thing feel unrealistic.  Despite these flaws, I enjoyed Learning to Swim well enough to keep turning pages.  It's certainly not my favorite thriller of all time, but it's not a bad diversionary read.

(Readalikes:  Its sequel, A Cold and Lonely Place by Sara J. Henry)


If this were a movie, it would be rated:

for mild language (no F-bombs), violence, and mild sexual innuendo/content

To the FTC, with love:  I received a finished copy of Learning to Swim from the generous folks at Crown Publishing Group (a division of Penguin Random House).  Thank you!

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