Only to Die Again

Written by Patrick Lee

Review written by Sara Townsend

Sara-Jayne Townsend is a published crime and horror writer and likes books in which someone dies horribly. She is founder and Chair Person of the T Party Writers’ Group.

Only to Die Again
Penguin UK
RRP: £6.99
Released: October 22 2015
pbk ebook
On a Saturday night in August, police race to a caravan in the middle of the Mojave desert, alerted by an emergency call that cuts off abruptly. They arrive to find a burnt-out shell, and inside is a cage with the remains of four small skeletons – four young girls, all reported missing, captured and abused by a recluse with a history of sexual abuse.

Cue to a scene four hours earlier, where former Special Forces operative Sam Dryden receives a telephone call from a former army colleague Claire Dunham to pick her up now, no time to explain. Claire directs Sam to a caravan in the desert, where they arrive just in the nick of time to rescue the four girls from the cage and kill the kidnapper before the incendiary device goes off.

So, the same event is presented in two timelines, and thoroughly confused me as a reader until it was revealed that Claire has come into possession of a radio-like device that broadcasts news reports several hours before they actually happen. A thrilling chase follows, in which Clare and Sam race to get to the Macguffin that powers the mysterious radio before it lands in the hands of the bad guys who want it, whilst also trying to prevent catastrophes that haven’t happened yet. The tension gets ramped up even higher when Sam hears a report on his own death and realises that the bad guys are onto him.

This high-speed chase of a story is an unusual mix of science fiction and thriller. The action moves along at a fair old lick and there’s no doubt it’s a page turner, but the time travel element might be hard to buy into if you’re not a science fiction fan. Anyone who’s read the first book in the Sam Dryden series is likely to know what to expect from this one, but reading the first book is not a prerequisite, since this story stands alone, and it’s well worth a read if you’re looking for something a bit different from the usual straight thriller.

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