I picked Ransom River to be one of my main recommended Summer books on for three reasons. First, it’s a new heroine (Rory Mackenzie). Meg Gardiner has two other ongoing series I highly recommend, neither one requires on being read in order, but starting fresh is always easier. Second, I have a six hour flight coming up in about a week and a half, and her previous book, The Nightmare Thief, is my drug of choice to burn flight time. That means you get her newest book instead of the old one since, by the time I get to writing that review Summer will be halfway over. And if you haven’t read Ms. Gardiner, I can’t in good conscience let you go so long without filling you in on what you’ve been missing. The third reason is that I’ve read eight previous Meg Gardiner books, and haven’t been let down.
So let me focus for now on Ransom River, which is amazing. To boil the plot down, Rory has come back to her home town for jury duty. During the trial the courtroom is stormed by gunmen who intend to take her as one of their hostages. The standoff and fallout set into motion a series of twists and revelations that are completely bananas. They’re also outrageously entertaining.
I think the best way to describe the experience is to go outside her mystery suspense genre a bit, into spy movies (follow me on this). One of the all time best car chases is the one in the Bourne Supremacy. Remember it? Jason Bourne barreling through Moscow streets, crashing into nearly every car on the road? Remember how he keeps checking his map? Ransom River moves forward with the same intensity and the same focus. Through every shocking twist and stunning revelation, the book never looses it’s way.
And it never slows down, either. Meg Gardiner writes some of the leanest prose you’ll find. She launches her characters into action, building their world as they crash through it. She also finds room for touches of humor and romance, and never loses sight of her characters’ humanity.
Every Summer we see various lists of guilty pleasures to indulge at the beach or on vacation. I hate the term guilty pleasure. It implies there’s something wrong in reading for any reason other than to be informed or enlightened. I loved reading Ransom River, just as I’ve enjoyed each one of her previous books. I don’t feel the slightest bit guilty, and neither should you.