If I Run by Terri Blackstock
My Rating: 4.5/5 TARDISes
Series: If I Run #1
Date Published: February 16th, 2016
Pages: 305 pages
Synopsis: Casey knows the truth. But it won’t set her free.
Casey Cox’s DNA is all over the crime scene. There’s no use talking to police; they have failed her abysmally before. She has to flee before she’s arrested . . . or worse. The truth doesn’t matter anymore.
But what is the truth? That’s the question haunting Dylan Roberts, the war-weary veteran hired to find Casey. PTSD has marked him damaged goods, but bringing Casey back can redeem him. Though the crime scene seems to tell the whole story, details of the murder aren’t adding up. Casey Cox doesn’t fit the profile of a killer. But are Dylan’s skewed perceptions keeping him from being objective? If she isn’t guilty, why did she run?
Unraveling her past and the evidence that condemns her will take more time than he has, but as Dylan’s damaged soul intersects with hers, he is faced with two choices. The girl who occupies his every thought is a psychopathic killer . . . or a selfless hero. And the truth could be the most deadly weapon yet.
*I received a copy of this book from the publisher in exchange for an honest review*
This is a spoiler-free review.
First of all, I have to start off this review by saying that this book was responsible for pulling me out of the biggest reading slump I have ever experienced. This novel promised a fast-paced dose of mystery and suspense, and Terri Blackstock definitely delivered just that and so much more. It is a deceptively light read that ends up rooting itself in important and thought-provoking topics—very relevant in society today—packing more of a punch both emotionally and intellectually.
From the very start, the reader is thrown right into the middle of the action, and is fluidly swept up into this story of suspicious murders, dubious police work, and a heart-pounding, multi-state chase. With vividly portrayed characters and using two strong narrative voices to unfold this saga, it is a novel that pulls the reader in and hangs on through the bittersweet, cliffhanger ending.
In this novel, we follow Casey Cox and Dylan Roberts in a dual narrative as the mystery unravels and the chase gradually weaves their individual storylines together. Casey unexpectedly walks into—and becomes a part of—a crime scene when her best friend is murdered. With traces of her found all over this scene, she is immediately pegged as the sole person of interest in the murder. Having experienced previous unfair treatment at the hands of law enforcement officials, Casey realizes that her best chance at unveiling the truth, and even at staying alive, lies in her ability to escape—take herself completely off-the-grid.
Dylan Roberts has just returned home, tired and broken from his time serving in the army. Suffering from PTSD, he is finding it incredibly difficult to settle back into this style life that he has been so disconnected from. On top of his inner demons, he struggles against unfair treatment as he tries to find work again—many companies refusing to hire someone in an unreliable and fragile mental state.
Dylan seemingly gets a break when he is employed by the family of the murder victim to track down Casey and take her into custody; something that should be fairly straight-forward for him given his level of experience. However, he ends up facing off with an exceedingly clever girl who always seems to be a few steps ahead of him no matter what he does. And if that weren’t enough, when the information that he has been supplied begins to not add up with what he uncovers on his own, and the people he trusts start to look more like the villain they portray Casey to be.
This is a very character-driven novel, and Blackstock does a wonderful job of making each and every character an important element to the plot. Even those with smaller roles to play are distinctive and memorable, adding a strong foundation of realism to the narrative as a whole. Some secondary characters end up contributing a great deal to the overall plot, as well as creating some intriguing subplots—mysteries within a mystery.
Casey has definitely earned a place on the list of my all-time favorite female leads. She is resilient, intelligent, and brave from the very start, but she also displays weakness and fear, making her a highly relatable character. It would be hard not to fall in love with her, and cheer her on as she tackles obstacle after obstacle, and proves time and time again that she is an utterly selfless individual. She evolves a lot throughout a short period of time, and gains a great deal of personal strength and faith in multiple aspects of her life.
Dylan is another exceedingly intelligent and strong character. He has been through war in Afghanistan and is now fighting a war of his own—the inner turmoil that has been created from the horrors he has witnessed. Nevertheless, he pushes through, and devotes himself to the job he has been given, remaining independent and focused on what he takes away from his investigations, not just what one party would happily force him to believe. Casey and Dylan are very similar. Both broken, but not beyond repair. Both dealing with their own hardships, but never forgetting to remain true to themselves and do what they believe is right.
As far as the actual text itself, I found the writing to be very solid. I really enjoyed Blackstock’s style—it flowed very well throughout, even with the changing perspectives. Having more than one narrator and managing to give them each a distinct narrative voice can be very difficult, and Blackstock completely nailed it with her portrayal of Casey and Dylan. Both characters had clearly unique voices and personalities, and there was never a feeling of choppiness as the perspectives changed.
I found this to be such an engrossing read I could hardly put it down, and I did in fact end up reading it in one day. The end to every chapter is written in a way that isn’t necessarily a major cliffhanger, but leaves you craving more all the same. This is an adult novel, but the writing does tend to feel a bit more like a young adult novel. However, in my personal opinion, that does not detract from the story at all. In fact, it makes it accessible to a wider audience.
This is a novel that I would highly recommend, particularly to people who enjoy an exciting mystery and skilled characterization. I absolutely tore through this book, dying to know what would happen next and what the fate of these characters—both lovable and not so lovable—would be. I was completely sucked in from the first few pages.
The plot never slows down, with Blackstock masterfully creating some amount of suspense at the end of each chapter. It is an addictive read that is also quite intellectually stimulating and very full of substance. Teeming with love, loss, pain and ultimately hope, this is a novel that shows the unbelievable strength, courage, and faith that a person can have in the face of adversity.