I recently had the opportunity to read two suspense novellas from the Kill Zone:Ten Deadly Thrillers collection boxed set, which is filled with 10 short stories from Christian authors known for their mystery and suspense tales.
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Secrets by Rick Acker
Secrets is subtitled “A Legal Thriller” and it is definitely a thriller from start to finish. The beginning features Scott Sherman, billionaire owner of a space exploration company with a burning desire to reach the asteroid 16 Orual before the Russians. He has a secret weapon, Arina Mikhailova, a brilliant scientist–whose mother happens to be the senior scientist for the Russian company racing to reach the asteroid. Her mother’s company is also suing Scott’s company, charging them with stealing secrets when Arina joined them. When Scott’s pacemaker malfunctions and he dies, it’s a tragedy, but when more a more sinister explanation comes to light, everyone involved must find out what is really going on before it’s too late.
I devoured Secrets, it’s fast-paced and intriguing. I got insights into space exploration and legal issues that I never had considered before. Lest you think that sounds boring, Acker has a way with making both science-based topics and legal topics approachable and fascinating. Usually I’m not a big fan of novellas, but this tale packs a big punch in a short story. There’s a full-on mystery, as well as family drama and international intrigue. The characters are detailed and realistic, making them relatable. This collection of stories is so well-priced that it would be worth it just for Secrets, but there are nine others! Including…
Undercut by Heather Day Gilbert
Marine sniper Isaiah “Zane” Boone is having a bit of difficulty getting used to civilian life again after returning home from Afghanistan. His wife has left him, and he doesn’t see his five-year-old daughter very often because his ex is trying to get him declared unfit for visitation. It doesn’t help that he feels like he is being followed, and his ex thinks he is just having issues adjusting. When he runs into Molly McClure, both are thrown a bit for a loop. After knowing each other in high school and briefly dating when he got back, he disappeared from her life without looking back. Now he wants to reconnect, but she’s not so sure if it’s a good idea. Strange, dangerous things begin to occur in her life as well, and the two find themselves embroiled in a cat and mouse game that puts their very lives at risk.
Undercut is book two of the Hemlock Creek Suspense series, and I did not read the first book. I didn’t feel lost, so this novella definitely stands alone. I’d classify this one as romantic suspense, I liked the way the relationship progressed between Zane and Molly, yet the romance is balanced out well by the action and suspenseful storyline. There are some nice twists that I didn’t see coming, and that’s saying something for a short novel. This story feels completely developed and the characters are detailed. Although, as I mentioned, it’s not necessary to read the other books in the series to connect with this one, now I want to go back and find out the backstory on these characters (and the supporting ones), as well as find out what happens to them in the future, so I’ll definitely be picking up the other books.
These two novellas just served to whet my appetite for more suspenseful thrillers. This collection is a bargain, and the great thing about these tales is that they can each be read in a couple of sittings or in one big gulp without committing to a large amount of time. Surprisingly, they were both incredibly well-developed for their length and I didn’t feel cheated or feel like anything had been left out of the story. A light, unobtrusive faith message is woven into each tale, making them approachable to everyone, yet clean and appropriate for anyone who loves a good thriller.
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I received complimentary copies of these novellas from the authors, all opinions are my own.