Title: The Dead Run
Author: Adam Mansbach
Publication Date: September 24, 2013
Format: Hardcover, 297 Pages
ISBN-10: 006219965X (Harper Voyager)
ISBN-13: 978-0062199652 (Harper Voyager)
Reviewed by: Steph
Filled with creepy chills and crackling suspense, an unnerving supernatural thriller, set in the netherworld of the US/Mexican borderland, from the #1 New York Times bestselling author of Go the F**ck to Sleep and the acclaimed Rage Is Back
On both sides of the Mexican-American border, girls are going missing and bodies are beginning to surface, a deadly epidemic of crime that plunges a small-town police chief into a monster of an investigation he’s unequipped to handle.
Sherry Nichols is one of those disappeared girls. Miraculously, she’s managed to escape. As the young woman soon discovers, freeing herself was the easy part. Lost and alone, she’s got to make it through the desert. Alive.
In a Mexican jail, an unjustly-imprisoned man named Galvan is offered a devil’s bargain. Freedom and the beloved daughter from whom he is estranged if he successfully carries a sinister package across the border in twenty-four hours.
But there are more than coyotes (human and animal) roaming the desert in seach of prey. An ancient evil has returned, and now everyone must face their deepest terrors.
With The Dead Run Adam Mansbach delivers an eerie high-concept thriller, mixing horror, the supernatural, and suspense in a chilling, high-octane read.
Quick & Dirty: Tasked with carrying a package to an unknown location, Jess Galvan is about to get a lot more than he bargained for. For the chance to see his daughter again though, any risk is worth the price.
Opening Sentence: It was almost dawn and Mulligan was nine-tenths dead, dragging one leg after the other out of sheer dumb will.
I spent the first 30-40% of this book mentally writing my 2 star review, planning on citing the unlikeable characters and some distasteful content as reasons for my dislike of the novel. Then, a funny thing happened. I started having a harder time putting the book down. The ends of chapters would leave me anxious, desperately wanting to know what would happen next. I’m not sure exactly how that happened, but I’m definitely not complaining about it!
The main plot revolves around a handful of characters. The true main character in my opinion is Jess Galvan. Galvan has spent the last year in a Mexican prison, serving time for ticking off the wrong guy. All Galvan wants is to see his daughter again and get custody of her from her mother. After a prison riot, a mysterious man makes Galvan an offer he can’t refuse: deliver a package for him, and he can have his freedom. Thus begins a journey that is going to be much more complicated and dangerous than Galvan could have imagined.
Sherry is a teenage girl, new to the area. After spending a day at the pool to get away from her religious fanatic mother, Sherry is kidnapped by a terrifying man. Thus begins the longest day of her life.
Nichols is a Texas sheriff, frustrated by the hand he’s been dealt in life. He’s contacted by Sherry’s mother, who is convinced something awful has happened. While investigating, Nichols meets Ruth Cantwell, a therapist who is close to Sherry. Together, they embark on a journey that will forever change them.
As I stated before, none of the characters start off (and in some cases, never become) very likeable. This made it very hard for me to get through the first part of the book. We’re told Galvan wants to reunite with his daughter, but that comes off as an afterthought, making it seem like the fact is just there to make the reader think “this is a good guy.” The actions he makes didn’t endear Galvan to me. It wasn’t until he met up with the real bad guys that I started to root for him, almost a case of choosing the lesser of two evils.
Sherry, on the other hand, started out unlikeable, but then became a character you could really root for. She starts out so weak that I rolled my eyes repeatedly at her actions. The moment she started to change, I found myself looking forward to every one of her chapters.
After a slow start, the plot really picks up. By the time you reach the halfway point, the book is pretty much nothing but action. Every chapter leaves you wanting more. It should be said that this book isn’t for those with weak stomachs. While not gratuitously graphic, there are some scenes that are hard to read. If you can deal with the violence and the slow start though, then you should really give this book a chance. I will definitely be checking out more by this author!
“Aren’t you forgetting something?” she asked, nodding at the shotgun.
Nichols unfolded his sunglasses and slid them on, the metal frames still cool from the air-conditioned ride.
“Heavy artillery tends to make folks less cooperative. I like to start with a nice friendly chat, build my way up to the armed standoff from there. That work for you, doc, or would you rather wait in the car? ‘Cause technically, you know, you really shouldn’t be here at all.”
And neither should I, Nichols thought.
Cantwell’s reply was low and even. “These are bad people, Sheriff.”
“And yet, amazingly, they have rights. Some of them even take to a court of law to defend those rights when they get trampled.” Nichols squared his shoulders to her. “Look, whenever it’s humanly possible, I do things by the book, because that book was written by smarter sons of bitches than me, and it was written to keep sons of bitches like me alive. It’s bad enough I’m investigating outside my jurisdiction, on your tip. But until I find some evidence, that’s all it is – a tip. So forgive me if I don’t start blasting away at everything that moves like this was Grand Theft Auto. We understand each other?”
Cantwell’s mouth was drawn tight. “Yes.”
“Peachy. Come on, then.” Nichols hitched up his belt and headed for the building. Halfway there, he turned to her. “For the record, I got nothing against Grand Theft Auto. It’s a damn fun game.”
FTC Advisory: Harper Voyager provided me with a copy of The Dead Run. No goody bags, sponsorships, “material connections,” or bribes were exchanged for my review.
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