Book Review: ‘Deadline’ by Simon Kernick

Posted: 15 November 2010 in Book reviews

I am happy to say that I did not buy this book. That might be harsh to say, but it is the truth. I love my thrillers and mystery novels but this one was definitely not one of the better ones I have read. Just to warn readers, I do reveal the outcome of the book. So if you want to read it at some point, best turn back now. Otherwise enjoy.

To start, there is the general story. The tagline for the book is: “You get home from work and your daughter is missing. You know you will do anything to get her back alive – but time is running out…….”. Along with a couple blurbs of praise for the author, it seems like an interesting read is in store, but I was mistaken. I was more annoyed by the writing and the cliche opaqueness of the characters.

The story revolves around a woman whose daughter has been kidnapped, not to mention the strange disappearance of her husband which she cares very little of. She is told not to go to the police or tell anyone or else she will never get her daughter back. Semi ignoring this advice, she employs the aid of former lover and (here comes the major surprise) father of the girl.

This is the first cause for annoyance.  This book is filled with revealed broken romances and the rekindling of feelings. First there is the past romance of Andrea Devern, the main female character, and Jimmy Galante, a thug with whom she had had an affair with. The second romance was between Andrea Devern and Mike Bolt, a police officer with whom she had had an affair while at the same time sleeping with Jimmy Galante. All of this seemed to have been allowed as her husband was impotent. Or so she says. Then while they are around each other, their emotions are heightened with the sexual tension being the highest of all.

Because of this, you can never really gain any kind of emotional attachment to any of the characters. They are all extreme which makes them unrealistic. Since I am already on this wavelength I shall continue on it. First Andrea Devern. As I have laid out before, she is unfaithful. Well was. Since she had cleaned up her life and had her daughter, she married a semi-decent man and has remained faithful and honest. That is until her daughter is kidnapped. She immediately changes into a ruthless creature who will stoop to all sorts of lows to get her back. She does this by telling Jimmy Galante, (here’s another surprise) and later Mike Bolt that they are the father of Emma Devern. Huh? So she admits to lying to Jimmy after he has been murdered and lit on fire when telling Mike that he is actually her father. Seems a bit strange right? So if she can lie to one man she could lie to another right? Then comes the complete disregard for her husband, who has completely disappeared. She doesn’t think or believe that he has anything to do with the kidnapping but about where he is she thinks very little of. She is a conniving, deceitful person who seems to care for the regard of no one but her daughter. She will lie and deceive to make sure Emma gets back.

Then we come to Mike Bolt. I will skip saying much about Jimmy. He comes because he believes Emma is his, tries to get with Andrea, gets her to disregard further the demands of the kidnappers and ultimately gets killed in the end. But Mike is different as he is a police officer. He gets thrust back into the life of Andrea when she gets brought in for questioning when she is pulled over and found with blood all over her clothes (Jimmy’s). His old feelings are instantly aroused and he is willing to anything to help her out, especially after she reveals to him that (surprise) Emma is really his daughter. Somehow, with each man the dates seem to fit about the conception. Strange again.

This new knowledge of Emma possibly being his daughter drives him to extreme lengths causing him to break laws and disregard commands in order to find the girl who might be his daughter. He even puts his fellow officers in awkward positions when he reveals the likeliness of her being his daughter. You cannot feel sympathy let alone relate with him because he goes mental in his quest to save Emma. Andrea doesn’t help any by begging him all the time to bring her back.

You then get to see a little into the mind of Emma. You sadly can’t relate with her because for a 14-year old girl she reacts more like a woman in her 20’s or 30’s. She in no way acts age appropriate. Sure kids are known to act more mature than some adults, but listening to the reasoning in her head and her words sound wrong. Very unnatural. Because of this, while you wish her the best, you can’t sympathise with her because you have no ability to connect with her.

Throughout the book you are lead on chase after chase of possible leads to where Emma and step-dad Pat Phelan might be. Naturally, Pat is the suspect as he is missing with the most possible connection, and it is later exposed of his severe gambling debts. Then all sorts of revelations are made that never lead anywhere. For instance, Pat was having an affair with Andrea’s business partner. Is anything done with that? Nope. The Andrea’s maid is found murdered (which is revealed in the prologue) but again Andrea is neither told nor anything is done with it. It is simply another point along the line leading to nowhere. Pat is later absolved from the suspect list and any part of it when his dismembered body is found dissolving in acid towards the end of the book.

Then comes the ending. So much happens that you just can’t care about anything really. First comes the revelation that Emma is in fact no ones daughter was actually adopted by Andrea as a baby. Then it is revealed that the motive for the kidnapping was from Andrea snitching on Jimmy when she was dating both Jimmy and Mike. The mastermind behind the kidnapping was none other than a cop who had lost out on the failed operation. With a huge grudge, he orchestrates the kidnapping plus steals all the money and then kills the remaining live accomplice. This is only found out through the instincts of Mike and the revelation that Pat Phelan had been a snitch for Jack Doyle, the mastermind.

I was so glad to be done with the book. I would be lying if I didn’t feel some kind of excitement but it had nothing to do with the characters, more of the revelations. I didn’t care for the characters and felt no pull in the story. If I were to read another book of his it would most likely be by borrowing it from a library.

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