"Killer Summer," Ridley Pearson

Pros: Wonderful plot, characters, mystery, etc.
Cons: Wanted a bit more of a couple of characters; it seemed like a few details were missing
Rating: 4 out of 5

Review book (uncorrected proof) courtesy of G.P. Putnam’s Sons.

 

Sun Valley sheriff Walt Fleming is just trying to reconnect with his nephew through a little fly fishing. Unfortunately it seems he can’t leave the job behind, and when he spots a suspicious truck driving past, he has to investigate. When he realizes he’s interrupted the kidnapping of a courier and the theft of the courier’s expensive cargo, he’s determined to figure out who’s behind it.

Walt’s nephew, Kevin, is still reeling from the death of his father and all the family shock waves that created. He’s working at the local inn when he meets Summer, the daughter of a wealthy movie-maker. Summer’s a headstrong girl who’s chafing at her father’s overprotectiveness and is determined to go her own way—with Kevin’s help. Unfortunately, the two of them are about to cross paths with a complicated heist and some dangerous people…
 

Okay, I admit it, I’m a sucker for heist movies & books. I adored Ocean’s 11, and Ridley Pearson’s Killer Summer definitely takes a page from that book. (It even openly acknowledges this, as Walt takes to calling the unidentified mastermind of the heist “George Clooney,” which is a nice touch.) The heist in this book is complex and satisfying, with plenty of twists and turns. Unfortunately I can’t say much more than that without risking giving away something important!

I loved the characterizations in Killer Summer as well, and my only complaint there was that there were enough interesting characters that it felt as though some of them got short shrift. In particular, I would have loved to see more detail on “George Clooney” and his partner, Lorraine. Walt is surprisingly socially awkward for a main character, and I love it. He has trouble relating to Kevin, Fiona (a friend and co-worker he’s developing feelings for), and his own dad, not to mention his soon-to-be-ex-wife, the deputy she’s leaving him for, and more. He’s a dogged and determined man, often confused and hurt by the people around him, yet who won’t give up on anyone.

My other favorite characters were the teens, Summer & Kevin. It’s rare to see teen characters in an adult novel that are handled this well. They aren’t overly precious or annoying. They aren’t perfect, too-smart, too-dumb, or transparent plot devices. They have their own personalities, make mistakes, try to do what they think is right or reasonable, and just generally succeed at being every bit as interesting and fun to follow along with as the adults. My only difficulty with them, in fact, was that I never did understand how Summer intended to pull off a particular part of her plan—again, I don’t want to go into too much detail here.

I did run into one detail that jerked me out of the story a bit when a side character is referred to as having a “master’s in science from MIT.” I paused, blinked a couple of times, read that aloud to my husband (who graduated from MIT), and watched him (literally) facepalm. Hopefully this is an artifact of the fact that this is an uncorrected proof and will be fixed before publication. In case you know nothing about MIT and are wondering why that detail threw me, let’s just say that my husband’s second reaction was, “which ONE? Or does he have a master’s in all of them? Because that would be awfully impressive!”

Anyway, that’s a niggly detail that I imagine most people wouldn’t notice. This is a highly enjoyable book with plenty of characterization, small-town scenery, and complicated heist details to keep you satisfied!

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