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Deception Cove Paperback – May 30, 2019
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- Publisher : Mulholland Books (May 30, 2019)
- Language : English
- Paperback : 368 pages
- ISBN-10 : 1529309190
- ISBN-13 : 978-1529309195
- Item Weight : 1.04 pounds
- Dimensions : 6.1 x 1.22 x 9.21 inches
- Best Sellers Rank: #1,796,371 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
- Customer Reviews:
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All that on-the-nose-ness, however, threatens to overlook something that shouldn't be overlooked: that Laukkanen is a hell of a storyteller. His ideas are often inspired, and his plotting and pacing are light on their feet, and he knows how and where to plant hooks and twists and jack up the stakes for maximum page-turnability. And that's the thriller writer's job above all.
And in DECEPTION COVE, Laukkanen brings the best of his strengths to the table in the debut of a new series featuring characters that stick to the cerebral ribs more than the bland, anodyne heroes of the Stevens-and-Windermere novels that comprised his first series. They come to fully realized life through a powerhouse setup: Mason Burke, convicted of murder even though he never actually killed anyone, is out of prison after fifteen years and wants to reconnect with the only thing that made him feel worthwhile behind bars: Lucy, the pit bull he trained as part of an inmate program. When Mason learns that Lucy is slated to be destroyed after she was impounded from her owner in the coastal town of Deception Cove, Washington, he decides to do what he can to save her. That brings him into the orbit of Jess Winslow, Lucy's owner, a PTSD-afflicted war veteran and new widow; and a cabal of corrupt sheriff's deputies on the hunt for a hidden cache of stolen drugs. In short order, the lives of Mason, Lucy and Jess are thrown into a blender, and, faced with death by law, they make a memorable and inventive final stand on a tiny island off the Washington coast.
In carrying out that ingenious premise, Laukkanen does his job: I never stopped wanting—needing—to know who would live or who would die, psychologically or otherwise. There are better stylists out there, but Laukkanen is nearly without peer at taking a powerful idea, making it plausible, and pounding it through several hundred pages at a galloping pace. DECEPTION COVE is the work of a journeyman storyteller with standout commercial instincts at the height of his powers.
I tend to steer clear of books dealing with drugs, as Deception Cove does, because the violence quotient tends to be quite high; however, the author has a light hand with that so my overactive imagination was grateful. This is a case of characters, story, and setting combining for a very enjoyable read. I see that this is the first of what is being called the Neah Bay series, so I'm really looking forward to the next book.
Mason Burke has spent fifteen years, almost half his life, in Chippewa Prison in Michigan beginning at age eighteen for being more an accomplice than being the one who commits an actual crime—but the law does not differentiate between the two. Mason, himself, has never disagreed with the sentence handed him and feels it is just considering what happened. The highlight of his time in prison is when he is selected to be part of a special program: matching certain prisoners with dogs needing rehabilitation and training. Mason receives a pathetic, scared, “little wretch” of a pit bull—rescued before it is ever in a fight—for six months before it is to be given more specialized training to be a service dog for a person in need. The dog’s name is Lucy.
Jess Winslow is a former marine having served three tours in Kunar Province, Afghanistan, as part of a “female engagement team.” During her final assignment she is engaged in a bloody and tragic nightmare which ends her military career and nearly her life. She returns home with an agonizing case of PTSD and to a greedy, criminal, deadbeat, and dead husband, Ty—a man who dies with a secret which others are desperate to know and who will stop at nothing to discover. Jess receives a service dog to help her with the nightmares, the visions she cannot forget, “the desolate, lonely, desperate nights,” and to help keep her safe. The dog, a pit bull, is named Lucy.
Shortly before he is released from prison, Mason is given word Lucy has been involved in “an incident” and will be destroyed. Mason cannot accept the dog who gave him a reason to get up in the morning and who he trained could ever become violent without cause and Mason is determined to learn the truth, damned if he’ll “let the one good thing [in his life] get wiped away.” The truth, if it is to be found, lies near the Pacific coast “way out on the farthest edge of the country” in Deception Cove, Washington.
Laukkanen’s storytelling is focused for maximum impact. Short chapters along with concise and pointed narration keep the story moving at a rapid pace. Realistic dialogue from the characters matches the recitation of the storyline. One reoccurring phrase the author uses is somewhat jarring, seemingly at first to be a double negative, but it is not. In spite of the author’s succinct writing style, Laukkanen manages to insert numerous details which bring to life the rugged coastline of Deception Cove, the routines of the rural and isolated inhabitants, as well as natural and unnatural terrors which lie both on shore and off.
With awkwardness on both their parts, Mason because of lack of socialization and interaction only with prisoners, always being told what to do every hour of the day for most of his life and Jess due to her PTSD and having seen everyone she has ever become attached to killed, the two quickly find themselves forced to trust each other and work together while embroiled in peril since Jess becomes a natural target, believed to know her dead husband’s secret. Rank and deadly corruption surrounds them in Deception Cove from the most unlikely of sources. The more they learn while they make every effort to win Lucy’s freedom from a vile deputy the dog bites while protecting Jess, the greater the danger which they face.
As events unfold, death and destruction begin to overwhelm a small circle of both friends and enemies within the small coastal area with events threatening to wreak even greater carnage if powerful, outside forces do not get their way. It is a race to discover where Ty has hidden a stolen item of immense value. It is also a contest to survive and one which becomes very personal for a number of the characters. Readers will be turning pages in rapid fashion as Jess performs much like an Ellen Ripley from the ALIEN movies, sometimes over estimating her abilities and with immense emotional baggage while Mason begins to basically becomes his own man for the first time in his life. A more powerful and engaging thriller is hard to imagine as Laukkanen places his characters out to sea and on an inhospitable, austere, wilderness named Dixie Cove—an island which it is nearly impossible for even the best of seamen to land upon or leave.
The concluding chapters of DECEPTION COVE contain moments of violence and sudden death among non-stop thrills encircled by the author’s vivid setting. Cliché as it may sound, DECEPTION COVE is white-knuckle reading. As the novel moves toward its last few pages, it is to Laukkanen’s credit the novel will have grabbed readers to the extent to which some readers will likely find themselves uneasy and almost up-in-arms in regards to where events appear to be headed. DECEPTION COVE is liable to please the most jaded reader of action/crime thrillers. [NOTE: The author has just released a sequel to DECEPTION COVE entitled LONE JACK TRAIL (2020).]
Top reviews from other countries
It has car chases, boats sinking, valiant rescues, battles where the antagonists have not only an arsenal of big guns but also a grenade launcher.
I had to restrain myself from glancing at the closing pages, anxious to learn the outcome and who had survived. I believe this is one of those rare action stories which would appeal equally to women who enjoy a frantic, compelling adventure with a lot of tension, and to male readers as well. There’s is also a budding, if unlikely, romance. Dog lovers may also enjoy this.
This is a powerful story of healing past mental wounds and redemption. It shows how being discontent with one’s’ present lifestyle can lead to crime, even amongst those charged with upholding the law. There is a vivid sense of place. The setting is a small town in decline, and the rainforests and seascapes of the Pacific Northwest, just south of British Columbia. It rains frequently and the dampness permeates the area. The characterizations of the protagonists are superb, and also the descriptions of the villains and minor characters.
The plot revolves around Mason, who has just been released from prison, after 15 years being incarcerated for his involvement in a murder. He missed many of the skills, relationships, and experiences one learns while growing up, but is determined to lead a good life and to stay out of trouble. As part of a prison program, Mason spent 6 months training a dog, Lucy, to become a companion or trauma dog. Lucy was a frightened part pit bull mix with a history of abuse. Finally, Mason and Lucy bonded, and he was sad when it was time for the dog to be placed in a new home. Determined to learn if Lucy is well cared for, Mason travels across the country to find if Lucy has now settled into her new surroundings.
He finds that Lucy has been placed as a companion dog for Jess, a female Marine suffering from PTSD after several deployments to Afghanistan. Lucy has been very protective of Jess and comforts her from the stress of flashbacks. She is recently a widow and trusts no one, especially Mason who shows up at her door. He learns much to his dismay that Lucy bit a law officer and is about to be killed.
The plot thickens. It seems that the local police are determined to learn the whereabouts of a parcel that her dead husband hid, and the dog was taken in retaliation when she told them she knows nothing about the missing item. Mason and Jess join forces to recover Lucy before she is put to death. This leads them into great danger and to the discovery of an international criminal conspiracy where the stakes are very high and deadly for all concerned.
I was happy to learn this is just the first book in a series.
Reviewed in Canada on May 24, 2019