Monday, January 26, 2009

Safer...is Chillingly Realistic

Safer
By Sean Doolittle
BantamDell
Advance Reading Copy
334 Pages


I think Sean Doolittle’s use of first person in his suspenseful novel, Safer, made it so much more realistic for his readers! That together with the setting forces each of us to think, “this could happen to me or my family!” Scary thoughts! Yet, so real!

It was the end of the semester and Paul and Sara are hosting a faculty party when the police arrive. Paul is called to the door where police are waiting to arrest him! It is only later that he discovers he’s been accused of molesting a neighborhood teenager! As is often the case, the sad part of that tale was that he, as an English professor, had been able to share books with the young reader and encourage her love of reading. He knew that she was not behind this!

Indeed, although Paul was shocked that it had come so far, he knew who was behind these accusations—and why! But could he prove it?

New to the community, Paul and Sara had moved into Sycamore Court, a small neighborhood near the college where they both would be working. On the very first night, as they were settling down, unpacked boxes covering most rooms, Sara had already gone to bed, but Paul, restless, had gone out to buy some beer. When he came back home, he heard noises and realized that his wife was being attacked! Coming to her rescue, he was able to clobber the man with a golf club and the man came after Paul, instead, but then decided just to flee.

It was that night, as the police were called and they were there to investigate, that Paul first met Roger Mallory, a neighbor and head of a local group that organized neighborhood watch patrols...for safer communities Unfortunately, the individuals who had been out on patrol that night had been too far away to hear, and help Sara.

With reluctance, Paul was slowly pulled into neighborhood activities and the watch patrol; but little by little, things had happened that made Paul suspicious. It was after Paul had confronted Roger and resigned from the watch patrol that the accusations against him were supposedly made by his neighbor’s daughter.

As Paul and his lawyer and staff track backwards over what had led to his arrest, a tale of garbage/mail searches, video cameras and even routine home invasions came out. When the young girl kills herself, readers realize even more...some version of this could really happen!

This novel hits close to home...your home! It is scary just because of its realistic approach of incidents that you hear about every day—new jobs, new neighbors, neighborhood vandalism, gossip and its potential damage. Add to that a real crime that happened many years ago, never discovered, yet constantly resulting in day-to-date decisions by those involved, and you have a nightmare that goes well beyond monsters in the closet. For this nightmare takes place each day you live in the neighborhood!

G. A. Bixler
For Amazon Vine