Saturday, June 23, 2018

Book Review: 'Doubtful' by Ann Warner


Doubtful Sound, New Zealand is the location of the Doubtful Research Institute, a facility devoted to the study of native New Zealand plants. Dr. Van Peters is hired to set up a mass spectrometer and she takes the job gratefully after a false accusation costs her her position as a toxicologist in a Cincinnati hospital. Then David Christianson, a prominent journalist, arrives in Doubtful to recover from his own personal tragedy. Each is absorbed in a world of pain and neither wants to be around anyone else. But when they are kidnapped, they discover they can only survive by working together.
This story is filled with action and suspense. It is a real page-turner. But what set this novel apart for me wasn’t the suspense but the way the author establishes the characters of Van and David and how she develops the relationship between them, gradually revealing their pasts and allowing them to heal. These two characters are very real, believable people who have been through traumas of heart-wrenching proportions. Yet, each is finding a path back to life, a real life rather than one filled with bitterness and pain. And I suspect, that even without all the suspense, over time, they would have developed a friendship.
The kidnapping along with other acts of violence against the research institute heightens the tensions and certainly Van and David’s very survival is at stake. I liked the way they work together as a team, each figuring out a part of the puzzle that they need. Most of the secondary characters are also fully fleshed out, lending support to Van and David. The main villain is pretty flat, but then that actually works to raise the level of suspense simply because he is such a loose cannon. The settings are described in great detail so that I feel as if I have actually been to Doubtful Sound. Everything in this novel works together so that I found that I couldn’t put it down, reading it in one afternoon.
Readers who like romantic suspense stories are sure to fall in love with Doubtful. I know I did.

Editor's note: This article was originally published at Long and Short ReviewsIt has been republished with permission. Like what you read? Subscribe to the SFRB's free daily email notice so you can be up-to-date on our latest articles. Scroll up this page to the sign-up field on your right.

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