Merrimon Book Reviews

The Rocky Mountains

Mors ultima linea rerum
Flemish copperplate print, ca. 1570 Mors ultima linea rerum
Translation of inscription from Prosper Tiro of Aquitaine:
"You flourish in wealth, and boast of the society of the great and powerful; you rejoice in the beauty of the body and the honours which men pay to you. Consider yourself, that you are mortal, that you are earth, and into the earth you shall go."

From Merrimon Book Reviews
Torn by Chris Jordan
by Chris Jordan         

Fascinating, creepy modern twist on the classic fanatical cult theme

Already reeling from the death of her husband, Haley Corbin faces a mother's worst nightmare when the her son alongside over 100 other schoolchilden are taken hostage by a madman.  As the SWAT team plans to enter, suddenly the gymnasium explodes.  When every child escapes except her son Noah, Haley frantically searches for clues. Was her son killed?  Did he wander away?  Or is there some other more nefarious explanation for her son's disappearance?  Should she heed the ominous statement made by her husband in the days preceding his death?  Was her son kidnapped?  Desperate to find real answers, Haley hires ex-FBI agent Randall Shane.  Randall isn't sure what to make of Haley.   Is she merely a mother unable to accept the death of her son as so many claim?  The more he investigates, the more he uncovers eerie coincidences and alliances between the people at the scene of the gym explosion.  As the Haley and Randall join forces, the trail leads to a remote area in the Rocky Mountains to a fanatical cult whose wealth and power extends way beyond the reach of their hidden compound.  Haley and Randall must race to uncover the truth behind Noah's disappearance and protect their lives as well.  The cult will do anything to maintain power and hide its secrets.

Chris Jordan's TORN is a fast paced thriller with a fascinating modern twist on the classic fanatical cult theme.  The mysterious unsettling  prologue sets the scene for the strangeness that underlies the heart of the cult's desperation.  Chris Jordan writes these one sentences at the end of a scene or chapter that chill to the bone.   Chris Jordan's characterization of Haley Corbin as a woman with emotion without overdoing it makes her a refreshing and active part of the investigation.  Despite the grief that infuses her life, she is intelligent and highly competent.  In his portrayal of Noah and the mother and child bond, Chris Jordan reaches the perfect balance without being too sappy, sentimental or too cute.  One scene towards the end is wonderfully twisted.

After such a wonderful pace throughout the novel, the ending feels a little rushed in the final action scene. Even though action is action and requires a fast pace to achieve a certain effect, Chris Jordan seems to skip over what he does best in the quickening of the pace.  This author has such a talent for writing very chilling scenes in a sentence or in a quiet moment, that I can't help but think that the final movement towards resolution might have been ripe for inclusion of what he does so well to build additional mind-chilling suspense.

Chris Jordan's TORN will appeal to suspense lovers who prefer intrigue over violent shocking crime details, to readers who prefer a clever puzzle that unfolds through an examination of clues and connections over the serial killer thriller in the suspense genre.  Creepy and twisted in a more subtle way, Chris Jordan examines a side of the modern wealth culture turned extreme and values often considered good turned to a creepy end.  Chris Jordan's TORN may not keep a reader up with the lights on into the wee hours of the night from fear, but TORN will certainly keep the pages flying late in the evening in intrigue to figure out how all the pieces come together!  Chris Jordan's TORN is a very welcome voice to this suspense lover!

Publisher: Mira (February 2009)
Reviewed by Merrimon, Merrimon Book Reviews
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