Review - RUN TO ME, Diane Hester
Written with the distinct feeling of a movie treatment RUN TO ME takes the story of a young boy in extreme danger, and combines that with a woman traumatised and stigmatised by the death of her own young boy. There's a feeling of inevitability to the coming together of those two characters, and their stand against the bad guys.
The threat to the boys (Zack is held with two other youngsters) is carefully crafted making it less confrontational, although the threat itself is clearly drawn out. The baddies are very bad in this book, and the contrast between them and the character of O'Neil is glaring - almost cinematic.
Less convincing is the idea of O'Neil's opportunity for "redemption". In order to accept that aspect, for a start it wouldn't hurt to not seeing it coming from a mile away, but all the way along it is hard to shake the feeling that she could have been unfairly treated.
There's nothing wrong with a thriller that sets up an expected plot trajectory, provided the reader has some connection with enough of the elements to want to go along for the ride. Perhaps it was the child at risk element, which felt manipulative, designed to trigger a reaction. Perhaps it was the woman on the edge, a child killer, and another designed reaction which was just a bit too much.
Perhaps it's simply a dose of overt manipulation fatigue - but RUN TO ME wasn't a ride that was easy to hitch a seat on. It was too hard to shake the feeling of observer, rather than participant.
It's been two years since Shyler O'Neil's beloved son Jesse was killed - but his final moments are as vivid to her now as they were that dreadful day. Suffering from post-traumatic stress, and convinced she did not do enough to protect him, she retreats to an isolated cabin in the woods of northern Maine.
Meanwhile, Zack Ballinger - a ten-year-old boy who has never known a mother's love - finds himself in the wrong place at the wrong time. He's seen too much and is now running for his life. Fleeing into the woods, Zack soon finds himself at Shyler's cabin. He'll take whatever help she can give - even though, for some reason, she keeps calling him Jesse . . .
With the pursuers hot on their heels, 'mother' and 'son' go on the run. Protecting Zack may well be Shyler's one chance at redemption.
Either that, or she is the child's greatest threat . . .