Don’t Look Back by Gregg Hurwitz (St. Martins Press, Aug. 2014)-Sometimes I need a straight up, scary as hell thriller to get me out of a reading slump, don’t you? Don’t Look Back scratched that itch, and then some. This is the first book by Gregg Hurwitz that I’ve read, and it won’t be my last.
Eve Hardaway is devastated at the news of her husband’s affair, and quietly goes about the process of divorce, one complicated by her young son, but they’re a good team, and they’re getting by. Before her husband’s revelations, however, she’d bought two tickets to Oaxaca, hoping to rekindle their marriage. So much for that, but she decides a trip like this may be just the thing she needs to make a fresh start, and after leaving her son with a trusted nanny, she sets out for paradise. Sure enough, the Dias Felices Ecolodge is beautiful, and its surroundings even more so. It doesn’t hurt that a handsome fellow lodger seems to be interested in Eve. The bright, sun drenched beauty surrounding the Ecolodge turns dark, however, when Eve discovers that the last person to stay in her room, a journalist by the name of Teresa Hamilton, had gone missing not too long ago, and she continues to find evidence of foul play. Soon it becomes obvious that the group is being targeted by a man that seems more than human, and the lengths that he’ll go to in order to obliterate evidence of his crimes are legion.
As Eve discovers more and more about the missing journalist, her first instinct is to call the authorities, but in Oaxaca, “authority” doesn’t mean the same thing that it means in the states. The people more or less police themselves, and any “official” police are miles away. Hurwitz sets up the eventual cat and mouse expertly. With the ubiquity of cell phones, calling for help is usually just a button touch away, but not in the jungles of Oaxaca, where possession of a satellite phone is considered a must, and finding a cell signal could involve climbing to the top of the highest ruin.
This book is just pure, very scary fun, and its fast pace will keep you very distracted, probably until you finish. The situation that Eve and her adventure group find themselves in is terrifying, and the book’s villain isn’t one that you’ll forget anytime soon. Eve isn’t perfect, but she’s smart and capable, and perhaps most importantly, she’s determined to get home to her son. If you missed finding your perfect beach read this summer, this is it. Eve becomes something akin to a jungle Ripley, and I rooted for her every step of the way. Don’t Look Back is everything you’d want in a thriller. It also didn’t hurt that Megan Abbot, one of my favorite authors, blurbed this. It’s cinematic, blazingly paced, clever, and very satisfying. Like I said, pure fun. Don’t miss it.