Merrimon Book Reviews

Probably the most famous American electric chair - Old Sparky from Sing-Sing prison


From Merrimon Book Reviews
Vengeance Road
Vengeance Road by Rick Mofina
by Rick Mofina

Reporter Jack Gannon has always dreamed of finding the one big story that would get him out of Buffalo and into New York City and the big time.  Jack thinks he has an edge to that end. The body of Bernice Hogan, a former nursing student, is uncovered in a shallow grave and Jolene Peller, a single mother, vanishes the night she tries to help Bernice.  Policeman Karl Styebeck, a cop well known and loved within the community, draws suspicions to himself, but with all his contacts, he is untouchable.  Jack Gannon, however, is determined to track down the truth and the secrets so well hidden by the beloved cop.  Before the case is over, Jack's investigation will threaten more than just his career.  Following the thinnest of clues, Jack's pursuit of the killer will take him down into the heart of the trucking world, onto forgotten roads, and into the records of a town's obscured history.

Rick Mofina's VENGEANCE ROAD is a fast-paced thriller written in a style that ramps up the reading speed.  Action takes precedence over psychological depth, and yet, every once in a while, the author includes descriptive passages or interior monologue that adds atmospheric depth to this plot-centered suspense novel.  Rick Mofina writes from various points of views with the effect that the reader not only knows Jolene's circumstances before the reporter does, but also, the reader journeys with her, wanting her to somehow escape.  Jolene's determination to survive parallels Jack's determination to track down the story, giving this novel more depth than those suspense novels that thrive on body counts for all the thrills.  Jolene herself is as interesting a character as Jack.  At first glance, VENGEANCE ROAD falls in line with the almost too familiar suspense scenario, but as the novel progresses, Rick Mofina's voice becomes more and more unique.  Although Jack uncovers the strange confluence of history and psychology that motivates the killer, VENGEANCE ROAD is not a profiler or psychological suspense novel and therein lies the interest for this reader.  The novel picks up speed as Jack narrows down the trail.  Twists and turns and revelations add drama, chills, and an increasingly intriguing confluence of knowledge and danger as Rick Mofina parcels out surprise after surprise.

On one level, VENGEANCE ROAD is a light, easy to read enjoyable suspense novel with a slightly hard-boiled shade, the perfect novel to read as a distraction or to relax at the beach, in the airport, or after a long day.  Action drives this novel, not character development.  Nevertheless, Rick Mofina adds just enough depth and internal dynamics within the novel, particularly in terms of the similarities and contrasts between certain characters (the details of which cannot be revealed without spoilers) to make this novel more satisfying for the reader who wants a little more.  VENGEANCE ROAD introduces an intriguing protagonist in Jack Gannon.  What gives VENGEANCE ROAD its distinctive style, however, is the attention the author gives to Jolene's character.  Rather than just a story of another prostitute brutalized by a sick killer equating sexuality with evil, Rick Mofina's portrayal of the gutsy Jolene is a welcome change from the typical suspense scenario.  This reader hopes that as the author develops the Jack Gannon series, the series will not lose this distinctive flair. VENGEANCE ROAD is the perfect combination --- a dark, horrific crime hunt for a killer written in an light, action-packed style with just the right measure of depth to keep the story haunting a reader after the last page has been turned.

Publisher: Mira (September 2009)
Author Website
Reviewed by Merrimon, Merrimon Book Reviews
Review Courtesy of Amazon Vine
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