Killer Summer Hardcover – Large Print, Jul 1 2009
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About the Author
Ridley Pearson is the author of more than twenty novels, including the New York Times bestseller Killer Weekend; the Lou Boldt crime series; and many books for young readers, including the award-winning children's novels Peter and the Starcatchers, Peter and the Shadow Thieves, and Peter and the Secret of Rundoon, which he cowrote with Dave Barry. Pearson lives with his wife and two daughters, dividing their time between Missouri and Idaho. --This text refers to the Paperback edition.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)
KILLER SUMMER is more a "head-on" (or straightforward) thriller than Ridley Pearson's last Fleming novel, KILLER VIEW; it doesn't conceal suspect identities for example, and it begins less tautly but still captivatingly. Arguably, it is slightly more predictable as a consequence. It differs too in that it also revolves strongly around the teenagers, Kevin and Summer Sumner -- hopeful of attracting younger readers perhaps, but sometimes, particularly in their dialog, conveying a commercial TV type of young people's relationship. However, like its predecessor, KILLER SUMMER presents some terrific wilderness suspense as characters battle the elements and each other for simple survival. The Sun Valley area, vibrantly described by Pearson, continues to deserve to be oonsidered a pivotal "character" in this series too.
Walt, a reliable, intelligent man, bears realistic insecurities and conflicts in his private life. He feels most in control as Sheriff of Blaine County, Idaho, than as son, uncle, or potential lover. His tentative "romance" with Fiona and his sometimes petty irritations endear him to the reader. At the same time, his professionalism and scouting and investigative skills make him an authoritative, capable protagonist. I look forward to his further adventures.
When I finally got it I couldn't wait to start it... after about 50 laborious pages I realized I couldn't wait for it to end-even contemplated not finishing it-which would have been a first for a RP book ( I even finished the dreadful ""Parallel Lines")-but stuck with it although scanning the last 100 pages not caring at all about the outcome since none of the characters were the least bit interesting...nor was there even a trace of a compelling story line.
There is even a "love that will last a lifetime" devolpment that had me shaking my head since the Romeo and Juliet in question had known each other about 5 minutes.
If you want to "kill a summer"(pun intended!)weekend:then go ahead and read it.
I realize he has contracts with his publisher to fulfill but I hope he will wait a bit until he can get an idea that will produce something of equal quality to a number of his earlier exceptionally good works: "Hardfall","The Angel Maker","No Witnesses","Beyond Recognition" and "The Pied Piper" among others.
Pearson's writing is lean and taut. He also introduced enough factoids about wine-making and glider flying and some of the other medical and law enforcement stuff that I enjoyed getting something of an education along the way as well. But those things mixed right into the story line and characters, and proved essential as well.
However, the pacing sacrifices a little of the character development of the ancillary players I wanted to see more of. Janet Finch, the specialist in wine history and wine bottles, seemed to drop right out of sight after her bit in the mystery was done, and I wasn't really ready to let go of her or the wine expertise she brought to the story.
To be fair, by the time some of the characters that revolve around the wine plot disappeared at the same time the suspense plot kicked into high gear and Walt's emotionally battered nephew Kevin was in danger.
The first half of the book took a little effort to get into, but Christopher Cantrell's hijacking of a car in the middle of traffic was cool enough to suck me in almost immediately. Unfortunately, the plot followed side roads for a time, including a jaunt down Walt's personal life that stuck out, before swinging back into the groove. Then the last half of the book seemed to rush right through things, and a lot of the action shifted off Walt's efforts to save Kevin while focusing on Kevin's efforts to save himself.
Still, this is one of those perfect beach reads. Killer Summer has short, compact chapters and an elaborate plot that spins naturally out of the action and the characterization. The book's engagement and pacing is good for a lazy summer or a few hours in the sun or on a trip.
I enjoyed the feel of organic growth of the books. The references to past cases (two previous books) let me know I'd missed a lot worth reading, but it didn't throw me off so much that I couldn't enjoy this book. Now I want to see how all this started, and I want to read the next Walt Fleming novel to find out what happens in this likeable sheriff's life. One thing is for certain: whatever comes through next isn't going to be easy, but it will be interesting.
Start to finish, Killer Summer is a riveting read. I love the main characters: Walt and Kevin are both likable and smart in the face of adversity, which I find appealing. We don't learn much about the criminals Walt's up against--and I suppose I would have liked to know more about them--but we are made to understand that the ringleader is careful and smart at what he does as well. The various strands of Pearson's story are expertly woven together. The writing is crisp. Killer Summer was a book I really didn't want to put down.
-- Debra Hamel