One Small Sacrifice (Shadows of New York)
“a thriller, of the filled-with-dread-but-I-have-to-finish-it variety.”
If NYPD detective Sheryn Sterling has one obsession in life, it’s putting Alex Traynor behind bars. She knows he killed Cori Staton, though the jury called it “death by misadventure.”
Alex, a well-known war photographer, was on the roof when Cori fell, but he was so high on opiates, he was unable to give them any coherent answers. A witness, Alex’s girlfriend, Dr. Emily Teare, provides the alibi saving him from jail: She saw Cori jump.
Now Emily’s missing, and Sheryn’s certain she’ll succeed this time in proving Alex killed her.
“Thoughts of Alex Traynor were dogging her every step. This was her first real break in over a year, since she’d flagged Alex Traynor in the system. This was shaping up to be serious.”
Just how serious Sheryn has no idea, for now that she’s once again digging into Alex’s past, she’s discovering a great deal she should’ve been paying attention to before.
There’s Cori’s father, Dr. Kevin Stanton, as determined as Sheryn that Alex will pay for his daughter’s death, but he doesn’t care if the result is legal or otherwise. Then, there’s Alex’s friend, Will Sipher, a self-centered manipulator who proves that if he’s a friend, Alex doesn’t need any enemies.
There are also some questions that need answering: Who did Emily write the handful of opiate prescriptions for? Why did an unknown woman have a key to Alex’s apartment?
As she and Alex are thrown together in their hunt for Emily, Sheryn comes to recognize her mistakes. She hates people who think there are rules for them, and another for everyone else, yet that’s exactly who she’s become.
“For the past year, I wanted him punished, but after talking with him, I know he’s not a sociopath. He’s a man with drug issues and PTSD, a walking wound. For the past year, I’ve been rock-solid certain Alex is capable of violence but I missed part of the big picture.”
Can it be Alex is being framed and she’s been wrong all along?
Sheryn may have changed her opinion about Alex, but Emily is still missing, and the longer she’s gone, the less chance they have of finding her. Joining forces may let them succeed, but it may be too late when they do.
Until Alex is confronted by the killer, that is, and decides to make that one small sacrifice to save the woman he loves.
A plain and simple reaction to this novel: This is a good book!
From the very first page, as Alex hears what he thinks is a gunshot on a busy New York street, the stage is set to show what he perceives as opposed to what is actually happening.
The reader’s attention will be caught and held, vice-like.
The introduction of Sheryn and her tunnel-vision obsession with Alex immediately brings the focus on her as well as how she’s ignored anything not fitting her belief in how she’s thinks the crime was committed.
Both characters are drawn with a precision defining the author’s ability. In spite of Sheryn’s obvious prejudice toward Alex, she is soon recognized as a sympathetic character needing only a single personal confrontation to change her attitude. Alex, in turn, is depicted as a good man who has seen some terrible things. He’s affected by these events, and as a result, carries a great deal of unnecessary guilt for the violence in which he’s been subjected.
The descriptions of how an ordinary sound or action can be misinterpreted by someone with PTSD is vividly portrayed, as well as the self-doubt and self-recriminations the victim suffers.
Once the first page is passed, there’s no doubt the reader will want to read this novel in one sitting. If that isn’t possible, it’s suggested he should pace himself accordingly, for once page 272 is reached, it’s going to be difficult to lay this novel aside. From that point on, the last 79 pages will rivet the reader in place, and he will put it down only with the greatest difficulty.
This one is indeed a thriller, of the filled-with-dread-but-I-have-to-finish-it variety.