Constant Fear by Daniel Palmer
Published byKensington on May 26th 2015
In Daniel Palmer’s electrifying, brilliantly plotted new thriller, a private school campus becomes a battleground as a desperate father takes on a terrifying enemy….
When Jake Dent’s dreams of baseball glory fell apart in a drunk-driving incident, his marriage did too. In those dark days, a popular survivalist blog helped to restore Jake’s sense of control. He’s become an avid Doomsday Prepper, raising his diabetic son, Andy, to be ready for any sudden catastrophe.
Andy, now a student at the prestigious Pepperell Academy where Jake works as a custodian, has a secret—he’s part of a computer club that redistributes money from the obscenely wealthy to the needy. Usually, their targets don’t even realize they’ve been hacked. But this time, they’ve stolen from the wrong people: a vicious drug cartel that is coming to get its money back…
Staging a chemical truck spill as a distraction, the cartel infiltrates the Academy, taking Andy and his friends hostage one by one. Jake, hidden inside the school’s abandoned tunnels, knows that soon the killing will start. With his training, and a stockpile of weapons and supplies, he’s the last, best hope these students—including his son—have of getting out alive. But survival is no longer an abstract concept. It’s a violent, brutal struggle that will test Jake to the limit, where there are no rules and no second chances…
*I received a free copy of this book from Netgalley in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.*
Constant Fear is an exciting thriller about a man named Jake who is raising his son on his own, in an unusual manner. Jake is a doomsday prepper. He has tried to instill in his son the necessity to be ready for an attack of any kind. The story gripped me at the beginning because I didn’t know who Jake and Andy were running from. Jake mentions an enemy, but he doesn’t say who the enemy is. I had to keep reading to find out.
Once I learned about what was going on with Andy, I was even more interested because it went against what I had expected. Since the father has extreme beliefs, I expected him to be the one to start trouble. Instead, it was Andy. He had started a group at school called The Shire that hacked into rich people’s accounts to rob them and give money to charities. The teens got themselves in a huge mess when they stole $200 million from a student’s father, who was a money launderer for a Mexican drug cartel.
While there are a lot of books and movies about drug cartels, hostages, and hacking, Constant Fear is unique. Other than Andy being diabetic–a common disease for a hostage to have in a thriller because the stakes are so high if the hostage doesn’t get his or her medication or food–I was impressed by the originality of the story. And, even though it’s not unusual for a hostage to have diabetes in this type of story, it was written convincingly.
One thing I noticed while reading this book that I didn’t particularly like was that the point of view sometimes slipped into that of an omniscient narrator. Most of the time, it was third-person limited point of view, but that changed occasionally. Another aspect of the book I disliked was the appearance of Laura. It seemed too coincidental to me that she would, after 12 years, suddenly decide to come home and try to start a relationship with Andy, the son she abandoned, right before all hell breaks loose.
Also, I will admit that I got a little bored during the early sections written from the point of view of the bad guys. These were the only parts that I felt dragged, but that could just be because I am more interested in what the good guys are doing. This didn’t bother me too much, because I was totally engrossed by the 35% mark. It was intense and hard to put down. The scenes with Jake, Ellie, and/or Andy more than made up for those slower parts. Even when there wasn’t violence, there was conflict and tension to keep me captivated, like when Andy and Jake argued about Jake’s survivalist methods and beliefs.
Some readers may not like how the writer backs up at times and shows the same scene from the perspective of another character. I think that is something that is a matter of personal taste. Personally, I didn’t mind it.
Apart from the great suspense and action, the thing that makes Constant Fear a wonderful story is the way Daniel Palmer worked in details about baseball pitching, diabetes, weapons, and more. It was a very well-researched novel. Those details made it more convincing to me. Plus, I always enjoy learning, even if I am reading for pleasure.
This was the first book I read by Daniel Palmer, but it won’t be the last. If you’re looking for a story with high stakes, a satisfying ending, and interesting characters, I strongly recommend checking out Constant Fear.