Sometimes The Safest Places Aren’t

There’s nothing quite like a good, old-fashioned thriller. A suspense novel can garner no higher praise than to be hung with that cliche of cliches, “a page-turner.”

Thrillers come in all shapes and sizes. Horror. Crime. Detective. Amateurs caught up in circumstances beyond their control. Each genre is as ubiquitous as the next. Many fans and readers devour them like candy. But thinking of them that way is to pay them less respect than they deserve. Particularly the good ones.

A particularly good one, that’s very high profile these days is Dennis Lehane’s Shutter Island. Though the profile is really due to the movie that’s currently out, directed by Martin Scorsese and starring Leonardo DeCaprio. It’s an excellent book that’s been made into an excellent movie. But that’s not what this post is about. This post is about a book that hasn’t been made into a movie yet, but probably will be. And if the as-yet unmade movie comes anywhere near the quality of the book, it will be a winner.

City Of The Sun is everything a suspense thriller should be. From the very beginning it grabs you by the lapels and keeps you leaping from chapter to chapter in search of what’s going to happen next. Granted, it unwinds in such a way that you can pretty much guess how it will end, but then again it might not. And it’s put together with such precision and control, that you really don’t care if it does turn out like you think it might because it’s a real reader’s joy ride.

Reality is actually one of the things that makes a thriller more thrilling. If you can believe that what you’re reading really can (and does) happen, it’s often even more nail-biting. The author, David Levien, keeps a firm grasp on reality as he weaves a story too often told on the news these days. The kidnapping and disappearance of a child. In this case, a fifteen year old boy, snatched from his suburban neighborhood in Indianapolis. The horror of such an act, and the subsequent pain and suffering it evokes on the young boy’s parents is artfully interspersed with the more police-procedural-like approach taken by the private investigator who’s been brought in to take up the cold trail the cops have basically abandoned.

The P.I., Frank Behr, has just the right amount of battered personal history to make him central casting’s idea of the perfect protagonist. But again, author Levien has done a great job of imbuing a stock character with just the right amount of grit and humanity to make him someone you want to spend time with. And chances are, readers will. This is his first appearance in print, but I would bet we’ll be seeing more of him in the future.

It probably occurs to you that City Of The Sun is an odd title for a story that’s grounded in Indianapolis. I won’t spoil the fun of finding out what the title has to do with the story, but suffice to say you’ll eventually find the title appropriate.

Spring is coming, summer not far behind. If these sorts of days fill you with desire for a book you can dive into and chew to your heart’s content, The Fiction Fortune Hunter recommends City Of The Sun, regardless of what climate you find yourself in.

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