~ When Jake Dent’s dreams of playing professional baseball were shattered after a drunk driving accident, so did his marriage. Left alone to raise his diabetic son Andy, Jake retains his sense of control by becoming a devoted Doomsday Prepper.
Andy, now a student at the prestigious Pepperell Academy where Jake is a custodian, has a secret–he has formed a computer club that takes money from the wealthy and gives it to the poor. Usually their targets don’t even realize they’ve been hacked. But this time, the group has targeted the wrong people, and now a vicious drug cartel is intent on getting its money back.
As the cartel infiltrates the Academy and takes Andy and his friends hostage, Jake, with his years of training and stockpile of weapons and supplies, is the best hope for getting them out alive. But survival in a real life situation is much different than practicing for a potential catastrophe, and Jake learns there are no rules or second chances.
Once upon a time, Jake had everything going for him. A promising career in major league baseball, a beautiful wife, and an infant son. Then his dreams are crushed when he’s in a drunk driving accident. Finding his life out of control, he finds relief in reading a survivalist blog, and prepares himself and Andy for the doomsday he knows will come eventually. Living in the quiet, picturesque Berkshires of Massachusetts, in a double-wide trailer near the prestigious school where Jake’s a custodian, the two are very close, although lately Andy’s been chafing at his father’s rules and drills. Jake has no idea that Andy and a group of friends who call themselves The Shire, have been siphoning small amounts of money from rich people and dispersing the funds to the needy. Unfortunately, their latest venture results in them inadvertently stealing two hundred million dollars in bitcoins, and now someone has stolen the bitcoins from them. Even worse, the money belongs to a Mexican drug cartel who sends a group of psychopaths to get the money back.
Constant Fear grabbed my attention from the very first page. Jake is such a sympathetic character. With everything that’s happened, you can understand why he’d become a survivalist. He’s not crazy, he just believes in being prepared and doesn’t want to lose everything again. He’s done a wonderful job raising Andy, and the two love and respect each other. I think their relationship is the strongest part of the book. Jake also has a girlfriend, Ellie, who is very supportive even though she knows nothing of his secret life. All the characters are wonderfully written, even the villains. Andy and his friends obviously make some incredibly stupid choices, but they see themselves as modern day versions of Robin Hood and his troupe. They don’t understand what repercussions their actions might bring until it’s too late. Once the cartel gets involved, the action is non-stop and nerve wracking, and I found it almost impossible to put the book down. There’s some pretty gruesome passages, involving torture, which I had to skim over a little, but everything is realistically written. The ending is perfectly satisfying and has a twist which I didn’t see coming. As usual, Daniel Palmer has done his homework; whether it’s in regards to the lives of survivalists, the politics of drug cartels, or the technical aspects of computer hacking. He never leaves his readers confused. This is definitely a perfect summer read if you like thrillers!