Author: Daniel Palmer
Length: 327 pages
Where Bethany’s Copy Came From: The Indianapolis Public Library
Plot Basics: John and Ruby are a young couple in Boston with dreams for the future, especially when John’s online game goes big time. But when Ruby is diagnosed with cancer, and her medicine won’t be covered because of an insurance technicality, John steals an identity — a player from his game who’s persona can help save her life. But the person behind the stolen identity forces John and Ruby into a deadly game of his own, “Criminal,” testing what the couple will do and just how far they would go.
Banter Points: This book could have been marketed under a “ripped from the headlines” type premise because the set-up is so chillingly accurate. Everybody thinks their health insurance is OK until a catastrophic event makes them wish they’d read the fine print a little closer and the truth of cancer drug shortages is sobering and scary. It makes for a good story to have real people caught up in real circumstances.
There’s a lot of computer stuff in this book too, which makes sense, since Palmer was one of the guys who worked in early e-commerce and knows a thing or two about the Internet. But, when he does the tech scenes in the book, the reader doesn’t get plunged into a sea of techno-babble. The tech descriptions move the plot along, without making the reader feel stupid and Palmer doesn’t waste pages explaining how it all works in fine detail.
Bummer Points: Some reviewers have said they didn’t like the ending. I’m willing to give that a pass. Any final chapter is going to feel somewhat anticlimactic after what Palmer put his characters through during the course of the story and it ties up the ends without getting draggy.
Word Nerd Recommendation: This is a top-notch thriller for summer. Pack it for the plane, the beach or just for reading in a chair in your own backyard.