Tag Archives: Families

A Suspenseful Country Noir: The Captive

24 Mar

Typically, I’m not drawn to fast-paced, high-tension adventure stories that pit man against nature  in a survival of the fittest scenario. However, Fiona King Foster’s debut novel The Captive is not only a propulsive wilderness adventure, but a suspenseful and tightly written country noir with considerable plot substance and gritty well-developed characters. I was lured in by the author’s  vivid descriptions of what seemed like an Old West landscape and a family struggling to survive  during a harrowing exploration of loyalty, trauma and resilience. 

Brooke Holland, once involved with her family’s drug war with the rival Cawley clan, has  established a new identity with her husband Milo and her two preteen daughters, who knows nothing of her violent past. They are content operating a small farm in the remote wilderness, miles from any form of established civilization. All seems well until Brooke learns that Stephen Cawley has escaped federal prison and is probably hunting for her with the intent of settling an  old score. When Cawley raids their farm, Brooke subdues him and attempts to transport him on foot to a distant federal outpost, thereby claiming the $5,000 bounty, which could save their  failing farm. Thus, she begins a harrowing trek with her husband and children across a forbidding and dangerous winter landscape. 

Along the treacherous journey, Foster intersperses detailed flashbacks from Brooke’s past, which further propel the current tension and danger and allows the reader to feel compassion for her as she develops a steely determination to save her loved ones. The rough winter poses obstacles and various unsavory and ruthless characters that they meet along the way pose threats to Brooke’s ultimate plan. Even getting separated from her children during a winter blizzard adds suspense to this fast-paced adventure and keeps the adrenaline pumping. 

The suspenseful thriller builds as strained family dynamics are brought to a breaking point and old wounds between rival family drug wars resurface. The ghosts, both real and imagined, from  Brooke’s past still haunt her and she questions her motives and well as her actions and the  consequences they may have. Ultimately, the chilling adventure leads to an explosive climax  involving an intense stand-off, a fire, and a gun-shooting duel, all reminiscent of the wild west.  Granted, this denouement may seem outlandish and larger than life, but it seems to fit the suspenseful buildup and tension and gives the reader a sense of hope for Brooke, her family and  their future. 

Available from Hoboken and other BCCLS libraries.

Written by:
Ethan Galvin
Information and Digital Services Librarian

%d bloggers like this: