Friday, May 09, 2008

Dying Breath - Wendy Corsi Staub


Dying Breath
Wendy Corsi Staub
Zebra/Kensington

Suspense

Camden (Cam) Hastings has lived with a secret for as long as she can remember. She has visions. Her English teachers called it the gift of vivid imagination and steered her into creative writing classes. Only Cam knows the truth: that these visions are real. She sees children who are kidnapped, terrified, and about to die. Over time, she begins to keep a diary of whatever details she can glean from the visions; that’s how she discovers that her visions are really premonitions. The events haven’t happened yet. But without a name or a place attached, there’s nothing she can do. Not that anyone would be likely to listen to her, anyway.

She keeps the secret, even from her husband, Mike, and fourteen-year-old daughter, Tess. She becomes very good at keeping secrets, and eventually creates a distance in her marriage that results in a trial separation. Adding to that distance is the alcohol that she consumes to keep the visions at bay. Just after Mike leaves, Cam discovers that she’s pregnant. That’s enough to stop her from drinking. And that brings the visions back.

Trying, for Tess’ sake, to keep life as normal as possible, Cam plans on spending most of the summer at the beach. Even the beach setting can’t relax Cam. She’s still having visions, and she hasn’t told Mike about the baby. The beach community is a small one, and when a first girl, then a second, goes missing, it’s huge news. To everyone but Cam, who recognizes their pictures from her visions. Then she starts having visions about her own daughter, fighting for her life against the same killer.

The suspense plot is engrossing. The scenes from the killer’s point of view are chillingly creepy. While the author presents a number of possible suspects, the identity of the killer is cleverly hidden until the end. What didn’t work so well for me was the relationship between Mike and Cam. I’m just not a big fan of problems that could be solved by one honest two-minute conversation. They each have their reasons for feeling the way they do, but it would be so very easy to resolve things if simply communicated. If you don’t like child-in-jeopardy stories, better skip this one. That aside, the narrative hits the ground running and continues at a very fast pace throughout the novel, making this one hard to put down.

Rating: 7 ½
May 2008
ISBN# 978-1-4201-0131-7 (paperback)

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