A small-town cop seeks vengeance on twelve escaped inmates in this novel of “jaw-dropping twists . . . crisp in execution and thrilling until the very end” (The Wall Street Journal).
When twelve inmates pull off an audacious prison break, it liberates more than a thousand convicts into the nearby small town. The newly freed prisoners rape, murder, and destroy the quiet community—burning down homes and businesses. An immense search ensues, but the twelve who plotted it all get away.
After two years, the local and federal police agencies have yet to find them. Then, the mayor calls in Leah Hawkins, a local cop who lost a loved one that terrible night. She’s placed on sabbatical to travel across the country learning advanced police procedures. But the sabbatical is merely a ruse. Her real job is to track down the infamous twelve—and kill them.
Leah’s mission takes her from Florida to New York and from the beaches of California to an anti-government settlement deep in the Ozarks. But when the surviving fugitives realize what she’s up to, a race to kill or be killed ensues in this nonstop tale of vengeance from the Edgar Award–winning author of The Butcher’s Boy.
A Small Town hooked me with an intriguing premise, and it started out well enough. The problem is that it quickly started to fizzle, and in the end, I forced myself to just get through to the end. Don't get me wrong, I still think the idea of this one was great, but it came up sorely lacking in the execution in my opinion. First, it relies heavily on a massive suspension of disbelief. This is fiction, but come on, it really does need to make sense.
The thing here is that in order for this prison break to actually work, we either need a group of really smart bad guys or really incompetent prison guards, or both. Then the same goes for the twelve to manage to stay completely off the FBI's radar. Again, they're either some crazy smart bad guys or the FBI is completely incompetent, and the way this one reads, I have to lean toward the latter because these bad guys act like the run of the mill variety, and they are pretty much right where Leah expects them to be. So, a whole team of FBI agents can't find hide nor hair of these guys, but she just gets lucky?
Then we have Leah as a main character. I think it's great that Perry writes such a strong female character, but there really needs to be a balance. Leah is so cold that she often comes across as almost robotic. I get that she has plenty of reason to be out for blood where these guys are concerned, but a little character depth would've gone a long way toward being able to find a connection to Leah. And I really needed more where she's concerned.
As I mentioned, the story starts out well enough, and it has a fair bit of tension, but this never felt like a thriller to me. Procedural, definitely. This book takes procedural to the extreme at times, but not a thriller. And there's nothing wrong with a good procedural, but somewhere around the 40% mark, my interest started to wane. The story started getting wordy and repetitive, and at times, just plain boring. Things do pick up here and there, but overall, A Small Town just left me disappointed.
❃❃ARC courtesy of NetGalley and Grove Atlantic