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McKenzie, Grant - 'No Cry For Help'
Paperback: 384 pages (Nov. 2010) Publisher: Bantam ISBN: 0553819925

Wallace Carver, a Canadian bus driver, has taken his family to a shopping mall across the border in the US. But as he sits waiting for them at a cafe, they don't appear at the appointed time, and finally a few hours later, he contacts the local security to try to find out where they are. But there is no sign of them, their luggage and passports are missing from the truck, and the police produce a picture from the Border control suggesting that he was driving alone when he crossed into the US. He become angry, as he can't understand what is happening, and no-one believes him, and as a result, he is shipped back to Canada and told not to return. He is so upset and angry, that once in Canada, he crashes his truck and has to ask his friend Crow to come and pick him up. Crow is also worried, as he has been to Wallace's house to find a roadblock, Wallace's wife and kid's possessions missing from the house, and blood on the floor. The police think he might have killed his family. But he believes Wallace, and agrees to help him get back into the US to find his family. Crow's relations help Wallace to return illegally into the USA, and Wallace is accompanied at first by a girl called Laurel, who comes back later in the story to help Crow. Wallace obtains guns and ammunition from a recluse called Randolf, and is ready to start the search.

As well as avoiding the police, someone else seems to be following Wallace, a mysterious Mr Black. Mr Black seems to be intent on finding Wallace, and perhaps adding him to the list of victims, but Wallace and Crow are unaware of him. Wallace slowly begins to piece things together and starts to uncover the reason why his family might have been taken. He also has flashbacks to an accident he had as a bus driver, when he was overtaken by a woman driver with a child in the back, and we start to learn that this may have something to do with the kidnapping of his wife and child. For some reason, someone has decided to take revenge on Wallace and his family. Will he find out who has taken them, and why, before it is too late?

This is a reasonably standard thriller that focuses on Wallace's search for his family. It does a good job of describing his incredulity at the disappearance of his family, and the complete disinterest of the police. Someone clearly has carefully plotted how to take his life apart and make him suffer, but Wallace is a strong, determined character, and he is going to stop at nothing get his family back, despite his lack of experience with guns and tackling bad guys. The eventual denouement is a little far fetched, as it is hard to believe that people would invest so much to make life unpleasant for someone. But Wallace's character and emotions are well developed throughout, and the author springs a few surprises, which altogether make the book an engaging, if gruelling read.

Michelle Peckham, England
March 2011

Details of the author's other books with links to reviews can be found on the Books page.
More European crime fiction reviews can be found on the Reviews page.

last updated 19/03/2011 14:40