Prather’s Pick: A romantic thriller | CraigDailyPress.com

Prather’s Pick: A romantic thriller

Diane Prather

Diane Prather

This week's Prather's Pick reviews "River Road," a suspense novel by author Jayne Ann Krentz. She has written an impressive number of novels — more than 50, in fact. Her contemporary romantic suspense novels are under the name Jayne Ann Krentz, while her futuristic and historical romantic novels are under the pseudonyms Jayne Castle and Amanda Quick.

"River Road" begins when Lucy Sheridan is 16 years old and is visiting her Aunt Sara in Summer River, a small town in California. Mason Fletcher, a 19-year-old (going on 30) is driving Lucy home. Lucy isn't a happy camper. Mason came to a party at the old Harper Ranch and "dragged" her away. The party is being hosted by Tristan Brinker. He and pal, Quinn Colfax, don't have the best of reputations, and Mason says the party isn't going to end well. The cops will shut it down.

Mason wants to know if Lucy had any of the drinks in the cooler. Actually, Lucy knew better not to drink the so-called "power drinks," and she also realized that she is not destined to live on the wild side. The reason she's so upset with Mason is that he is treating her like a kid. She wants to know who appointed him as her guardian angel.

After Mason leaves Lucy at her aunt's house, he goes back to the party. Sure enough, it gets shut down, and Mason gets a chance to confront Brinker. Mason knows a whole lot more about this guy than he's told Lucy; Brinker is involved in some bad stuff, and Mason believes Lucy is one of his targets. Mason warns Brinker to leave Lucy alone.

The next day, Brinker is seen driving out of town. He disappears and is never seen again.

The way the novel begins, a reader might guess that it is intended for the young adult audience but not so. The plot shifts to 13 years later. Lucy is a forensic genealogist, living in Vantage Harbor, California. Mason and his brother Aaron own a sophisticated security firm in Washington, D.C. They end up back in Summer River, a town that is more of a boutique village now that the wine boom has hit. However, Fletcher Hardware has survived all of the changes, and it is being run by Mason's Uncle Deke. (He raised Mason and Aaron.)

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That's where Lucy finds Mason. She has questions about making some upgrades to her Aunt Sara's house. Aunt Sara and her friend Mary were killed in an automobile accident. Lucy has inherited the house and is in town to get the house ready for sale.

One thing leads to another, and Mason ends up going to Aunt Sara's house to help Lucy. Aunt Sara had blocked off the front of the fireplace with tiles, and Lucy wants to open it up again so Mason helps by chipping off the tiles. That's when he makes a shocking discovery. Behind the tiles is a newspaper, sealed in plastic. The headlines read: "Scorecard Rapist Strikes Again," and there's a driver's license in the bag with the paper. It belonged to Tristan Brinker. But that's not all — there's a "droopy" body bag stuffed in the fireplace, too. A police investigation suggests it is Brinker.

All of this is enough to get investigators like Mason and Lucy ready to ask questions, especially when some of the townspeople begin to get a little fidgety. And there's something else to add to the plot — Lucy inherited some shares for Colfax, Inc., the family-owned company that's in the middle of some kind of merger. (The Colfax family is involved in the wine industry.) They want to buy the shares back. And now there are questions about Aunt Sara's accident.

The suspense in this novel is guaranteed to keep the reader turning the pages — quickly, too. Besides that, there's a romance in the works.

I bought this book at the grocery store, off the rack with bestselling books. It cost $7.99 in paperback. The book is published by Jove Books, the Penguin Group, 2014.