cover image Niceville


Carsten Stroud. ISBN , $26.95 (400p) ISBN 978-0-307-70095-7

Thriller author Stroud (Close Pursuit) begins this shoot ’em up meets supernatural thriller with a high-speed chase between cops, a getaway car, and a news chopper that is gruesomely cut short by a conspiring sniper. The bloodbath sets in motion a three-day flurry of dimly related events, including a standoff between an accused pedophile and a SWAT team, a father caught taping his daughters in the shower, and the takedown of an anonymous tipster for his own heinous crimes. As the entangled story unravels, “random stranger abductions” continue across the small Southern town of Niceville. After a missing boy is found alive in a fresh grave, clues surface about who—or what—is behind it all. In this unnecessarily convoluted mind-bender, Stroud introduces key players without sufficient backstory, making differentiation difficult. The genre jargon–thick prose can be campy (“Coker felt that line-of-duty death was like the jalapeños on a chimichanga; it added spice to patrol work that could be pretty damn boring most of the time”) and some plot twists, while intriguing, clutter rather than clarify. The ending leaves mysteries unsolved, but a pending follow-up book may provide answers, if readers are willing to return to Niceville. 100,000 announced first printing. Agent: Barney Karpfinger. (June)