Four men, one of them an ex-serviceman, rob a theme park and escape by diverting attention to the rollercoaster they blow up, killing scores of people, including women and children. It’s a brutal start to a very short novel (novella), where you immediately know how high the stakes are.
The gang splits for months, all in thrall to the leader, Armstrong, reluctantly agreeing for him to keep the money so they don’t bring attention to themselves by going on a spending spree. The story picks up months later when Detective Kurt Vaughn is out in the country geocaching with his wife Emma, and son Caleb. Geocaching is a treasure hunt where enthusiasts leave clues for each other on where to find the next cache, using coordinates. It turns out that Kurt received an anonymous tip about a really exciting treasure hunt, not knowing that Armstrong has set him up, the man he’s been chasing since the rollercoaster deaths and theme park robbery. On the same trail are his fellow gang members, all of them furious about the game Armstrong is playing. Inevitably, the detective bumps into the gang, leading to a cat and mouse game where Armstrong aims to bump each of them off.
Jeffrey’s novella is a lot of fun, easy to read, and you’ll race through it in a couple of days, if that. It does have problems. It is really corny at times, with some pretty stiff description and dialogue. The characters are barely developed, apart from Connor, Armstrong and Kurt. Emma is pretty thin, and there’s little development even when she’s shot. I also couldn’t buy Kurt blindly following an anonymous letter in his letterbox leading him to this predicament. He’s a detective after all.
However, it will make a long journey fly by if you let it ride over you.
You’ll love it if you want a quick, uncomplicated fix of brutal action and sympathetic characters (the good guys, that is – the bad guys blew up a bloody rollercoaster). You’ll not like it if you like twisty dialogue, an unpredictable plot, and descriptive language.