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9781476798578_p0_v2_s300x I received this e-Arc from NetGalley and Gallery Books in exchange for an honest review. Release Date: July 7, 2015 Synopsis ~ It’s high summer in the Mojave Desert, and Kristine Rush and her fiance, Daniel, are en route from Las Vegas to Lake Arrowead, California, for the July Fourth holiday weekend. But when Daniel is abducted from a desolate rest stop, Kristine is forced to choose: return home unharmed, but never see her fiance again, or plunge forward into the searing desert to find him…where a killer lies in wait.

I’m a fan of Vicki Pettersson’s urban fantasy Zodiac series, so when I saw this thriller by her offered on NetGalley, well, let’s just say I was intrigued. I started it at 8:00 in the evening, and stayed up until 2:30 in the morning to finish it. Yes it’s THAT good! At some point my poor husband tried to get me to put down my kindle but he quickly backed off, because I think I may have looked like this:

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The action starts immediately as Kristine, who’s a physician’s assistant, and Daniel, a surgeon are on their way to his snobbish mother’s for the holiday. After a mishap involving spilled coffee, they pull into a deserted rest stop so Kristine can change clothes. As she’s doing so, she’s attacked by a mysterious assailant and knocked out. Once she regains consciousness, she staggers outside to their car to find that Daniel has disappeared leaving only his phone behind. Within minutes it rings and the psychopath who calls himself Malthus, tells her if she wants to see Daniel again, she’ll have to follow his instructions. And so begins the scavenger hunt from hell.

The first half of the book focuses on the cat-and-mouse game between Malthus and Kristine as she scurries to do his bidding. The situations he puts her in are humiliating and gruesome. Even worse, he’s has no issue killing anyone she comes in contact with and as the body count rises, he manages to make everything point to her as the murderer. About halfway in the true identity of Malthus is revealed and although I had my suspicions, I was still left reeling.

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The second half of the book focuses on Kristine’s desperate attempts to survive, as she tries to save not only herself, but the person she loves most in the world.

I absolutely adored Kristine. She’s a tough, intelligent woman who finds herself pulled into a nightmare. She’s loyal to a fault and will do anything to protect her loved ones.  As the story unfolds, it becomes clear that Kristine has had practice at surviving, as she reflects upon her traumatic childhood. Several times I found myself wanting to scream: “Can someone please give this poor woman a break?!”  Not once does she indulge in self-pity though. She stays focused on her mission and is determined to beat Malthus at his own game. All I can say about Malthus is that he’s bat-shit crazy. Please forgive my language. Honestly though, this is someone who has absolutely NO redeeming qualities. By the end of the book I was hoping for the most painful death possible for him. And I swear, I’m not a violent person! The ending was perfect, and left no loose ends which I appreciated.

Swerve is an adrenaline-fueled rollercoaster ride which will leave you emotionally exhausted, in a good way! In my humble opinion Vicki Pettersson has joined the ranks of Dean Koontz, Gillian Flynn, and even my beloved Stephen King. So, will I be recommending this to everyone I know? Heck yeah!

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