Tuesday, May 14, 2013

No Safe Ground - Julia Pomeroy

First sentence: "A mud-splattered black Town Car pulled up in front of the Hudson, New York, train station, and a man in a well-cut black suit scrambled out from the rear, unassisted."

Reynolds "Pack" Packard is a tired, old man. He lives in rumpled clothes and a house that is in disarray, falling apart; he even drives a tired old Town Car as a freelance limo driver. His all-around "I don't care" attitude is rocked to the core when a surprise guest shows up in his house, uninvited and aiming his own gun at him.

The guest is Vida, the daughter he abandoned fifteen years ago. She's AWOL from the Army and convinced her friend was murdered by a fellow American soldier in Iraq. But the details are all fuzzy since Vida sustained her own injuries. She's a witness the soldier needs to silence. To be able to defend herself, Vida first needs to find the soldier's identity then prove his crime all while evading the authorities. Enlisting the help of Pack's cousin Millie, the three set off on a deathly adventure.

No Safe Ground is chock full of engaging characters with delicious flaws. Pack is essentially a curmudgeon and the irony of his character as a limo driver will hit close to home with anyone who has encountered a less-than-stellar customer service representative and wondered how in the world they keep their job.

Pomeroy never lets the reader forget that Vida is young and terrified of what she experienced, what she witnessed, terrified of what could happen to her. She's turned to the last person she ever wanted to ask for help, but there's also a nagging part of her that wants to know why Pack left her and her mother. Vida is both authentic and empathetic.

And Millie is my favorite character of the whole book. Millie was once Mitch, a state trooper. After retiring from the force, he donned a red wig, make-up and the name Millie. Pack accepts Mitch as Millie but still struggles with some confusion at times, which is endearing of both characters. Millie is passionate and determined. Millie is also the flip side of Pack: neat, organized, she has it together.

With these three characters, Pomeroy not only crafts a captivating plot, but she explores some themes of family and loyalty. The plot itself starts out a little on the slow side but as it builds, more layers are peeled back, more secrets are revealed and unbeknownst to the reader, he/she has become engrossed and oblivious to time.

Whether you like high-speed action or driving characters, Julia Pomeroy offers up both in No Safe Ground.

No Safe Ground is available in hardcover from Five Star (ISBN: 978-1432826826).

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