Friday, August 9, 2013

SCARE ME by Richard Parker - A Review

Okay.   It’s the middle of the night.   You’re in bed asleep, or at least wrestling with the concept.  Your cell rings and since there’s a chance it may be a family member you‘re expecting, you answer it.   A woman asks when did you last google yourself, and addresses you by name.   That is followed by ‘kiss, kiss, kiss’, and the caller disconnects.   Wrong number, right? But she knew your name…

So, what do you do?   Chalk it up to kids making prank calls and go back to sleep?   Or does this odd, yet seemingly sinister, event compel you to climb out of your nice warm bed and head for your den to fire up the desktop?   Well, when this happens to Will Frost, to say he’s a bit freaked out about it would be putting it mildly.   The call awakened his wife, and since he doesn’t want to unnecessarily frighten her, he tells her it’s a wrong number.   He waits until she’s fallen back asleep, makes his way downstairs to his office, and boots up his computer.   Before he has time to really think this through and decide he’s been conned into running a fool’s errand, he types his name into a search bar.

William Frost

Page after page appears detailing the numerous phases of his career, as well as photograph after photograph of his successes.   On and on, screen after screen, the details of his accomplishments cascade before him.   He knew at that moment the call had been some type of dark joke.   Perhaps a reporter he had rebuffed?   An interview he had declined?   But, then he remembered how the woman had finished the call.   The three ‘kisses’.   The link was there.   Just the link though--no information provided with it.   What could this mean?   He had to click on it.   Had to.

Image after image of the outside, and chillingly, the inside as well, of his home.   One image contained his wife, Carla, working at her desk, which meant whoever took these photographs was not only inside the house, but a mere few feet away from Carla.   Following the last image was a message to check his email and go ‘home‘.   As during his initial search, he found routine correspondence until the one entitled ‘Last Snaps’.   Vacation pictures of his daughter, Libby, and her boyfriend, Luke, who Will and Carla were expecting for a visit.   Carla had risen and was standing behind Will as he brought up the last image.   Whether to share the details of the distressing phone call with his wife became moot as this last photo showed Libby and Luke within metal cages, bound together with flex-ties, and gagged.   At the end of a string around Libby’s neck was a card.   On it was written a mobile number.   Will called the number and only screaming was heard.   But his and Carla’s nightmare hadn’t yet begun.

Returning to the site with photos of their home, Will clicks in the corner on the word ‘HOME’.   There are messages stating that if police are called, his daughter and her boyfriend will be dead, and if he doesn’t follow instructions, they’re dead.   He’s instructed to get on the first available flight to Orlando International, take his laptop and await further instructions via that site.   What choice did he have?   Whoever was behind this was obviously not in a negotiating frame of mind.

Thus begins Will’s being directed to city after city, state after state, house after house, to discover and retrieve.   In the first, he finds a family brutally murdered and he has been instructed to locate, and remove, an item.   He makes his way to the second house and discovers yet another family massacred, with a hidden treasure for him to find.   And on and on this horrific crusade continues, but to what end?   For what purpose?   And, for whose amusement?

Who wrote the playbook for this twisted game, and why is he being forced to play it?   To save his daughter, he must visit one bloody crime scene after another and defile the victims by taking something that has been left with one of them.   But, as if all of that isn’t enough, he must also make sure he avoids the police who will ultimately arrive on scene.   What would happen to Libby and Luke if he should end up being arrested for having committed these murders?

This story is a nightmare from which none of the characters can awake.   Richard Parker has crafted a dark tale of mystery, fear, and desperation.   You can’t put this one down until it’s done.   You won’t want to either because you need to know.   Just like Will…

Links to where you can get your copy of Scare Me are on Richard’s website here.

Make sure you also click on the tab for Richard’s first novel, Stop Me.   That is definitely another must read--a thriller and then some.   Click here to see my review of Stop Me.