Book Critique -
Another page-turning thriller by Linwood Barclay.
Ray Palen
Ray is an amateur actor, book/film reviewer and runs a successful Theatre group on Long Island. He is an avid reader who regularly reads up to 3 books per week and has had reviews published on multiple on-line sites and national publications. He lives with his wife, Debbie, in Suffolk County, Long Island, New York. 
By Ray Palen
Published on 06/26/2009
Linwood Barclay follows the huge success of his prior two novels - "No Time For Goodbye" and "Too Close To Home" with the tautly written thriller, "Fear the Worst", that examines every parents worst nightmare - the disappearance of their child.

Linwood Barclay's "Fear the Worst" - a tautly written thrill-ride!

Thriller writer Linwood Barclay had his best success when his outstanding novel, "No Time For Goodbye", was short-listed for Best Novel at the International Thriller Writers convention in 2007.  His follow-up in 2008, "Too Close To Home", was also a tautly written thriller and hard to put down.

His newest novel, "Fear the Worst" , is not up to the standards of his prior two efforts, but on it's own is an enjoyable and fast-paced thriller.  The premise presents one of the biggest horrors that any parent of a teen-ager can imagine - the inexplicable disappearance of their son/daughter.  In this novel, Tim Blake is a single Dad who has his daughter Sydney spending the summer with him.  When she disappears without notice for 48 hours he gets seriously worried.  What makes things worse is that the Hotel his daughter claimed to work at tells Tim they have never seen or heard of her before.

Tim gets the assistance of the local Milford, CT, police force while he continues to look into his daughter's background on his own.  What he uncovers involves several interesting plot elements: a mysterious female friend of his daughter's who could possibly be Tim's own child; an illicit affair between Syd and the son of her mother's new boyfriend; a male friend of Syd's that is a computer hacker involved in a credit card/identity theft ring and, more importantly, the discovery of a human trafficking ring out of the very hotel claiming to not know Syndney.

To give away anything else would spoil it.  What Barclay does best is, like a good David Lynch film, presents an idealistic image of suburbia and then slowly uncover the nefarious underbelly that fuels it.  The ending disappointed me a bit, but probably only due to the fact that Barclay raised the bar so high with his previous novels.  I particularly liked the reference to a character from "No Time For Goodbye" that only true Barclay fans will catch!