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Monday, March 30, 2009

First Novel Compulsion Is Thriller

Title: Compulsion
Author: Jennifer Chase
Genre: Thriller
Publisher: Outskirts Press
Website: http://www.outskirtspress.com/compulsion/
ISBN: 9781432734169

Reviewed by Sarah Moore, Writers in the Skyhttp://yvonneperry.blogspot.com/2009/03/jennifer-chase-set-to-join-podcast-on.html

There are certain types of books that are almost guaranteed to keep me turning the pages into the late hours of the night. The first is any novel that develops a compelling story of the complexities found in human relationships. Second, I love a great piece of historical fiction that places me in a previous moment in time. And, finally, I gravitate towards thrilling mysteries that are filled with breath-taking action and plot twists. For literary satisfaction on the last count, I am so excited to have discovered new author Jennifer Chase. Her first book, Compulsion, is a fascinating story of serial murderers, pedophiles, and the one amazing woman who is able to bring them all to justice. When a book contains these elements and is well written, which Compulsion most certainly is, you have the recipe for an amazing read.

Author Jennifer Chase introduces us to the great character of Emily Stone. Working anonymously with her camera, computer, and trusted weapon at her constant disposal, Stone goes on the hunt for some of the most violent and deplorable criminals one can imagine. She uses her police background and natural ability to get inside the criminal mind to gather detailed, on-the-scene evidence. Then, she sends her information to the police and another villain is taken off the streets. When Stone’s identity is revealed to the latest killer on her radar screen, the fast-paced action that unfolds becomes the heart of the story and takes the reader on an amazing journey of heightened adrenaline and fear.

One of the greatest strengths in Chase’s writing is the careful unfolding of her characters’ personalities. The man known to the readers for most of Compulsion’s pages only as The Killer is first revealed through the gruesome crimes he commits. We learn of his brutal style of murder through the description of police on the scene. Further into the book, we are let into the mind of The Killer and the motivation behind his violent spree. Chase’s portrayal of a man sitting alone with his twisted thoughts brings the character into a more frightening focus. When the name and full story behind The Killer is finally revealed, the weight provided by the complete picture of this terrifying man is felt. The author employs this same development technique for her other characters, which adds an important element to the tension and sense of uncertainty. But don’t think that you are necessarily on the right track when learning more about a person in this novel. I found myself fooled by Chase’s convincing efforts to lead us down a path of assuming the guilt of an innocent person on more than one occasion.

Both the language and overall format of this book are evidence of Chase’s genuine talent in the genre of thrillers. For example, the tension and terror of the book escalates as The Killer and The Accomplice become more voracious in their need for prey. As they drive across the country with the intention of murdering Emily Stone, their need to commit violence at every step is overpowering. Readers can envision these men clenching their fists and tapping their feet with nervous energy and Chase reminds us at the close of every chapter in this climactic series of events that, “The Killers are coming.” It is a taunt that helps to create a sense of terrified anticipation. Each chapter is also quite short, often not more than three or four pages in length. This purposefully abrupt, snapshot approach jostles the reader from one event to the next, and is wonderful at generating the way that Emily Stone must feel when moving from one case to the next and not knowing who or what may be around the corner.

The new novel Compulsion by Jennifer Chase is a captivating thriller that will keep you guessing until the last page is read. The careful character development results in real, three-dimensional men and women, even if some of them are almost unimaginably horrifying. The plot, with its slowly revealed layers, is one that engages the readers immediately and takes them on quite an adventure. I was excited to read on Chase’s back cover that she is currently at work on the next book in the series. She can be certain that this new fan will be among the first to read the next installment. I believe that you, too, will find that Compulsion will leave you excited for more.

Reviewed by Sarah Moore for Writers in the Sky

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