A riveting page-turner…
Tortured past comes to haunt the restless young protagonist of Towles’s multilayered, compulsively readable thriller. Getting transferred from NYU to University of Chicago is supposed to be a new beginning for the troubled Zak Skinner. But an accidental uncovering of a sinister, on-campus crime scam sets Zak on the trail of dangerous criminals. As Zak begins to dig deeper, he realizes the scam is linked to a dark web underworld. Trying to uncover the conspiracy, Zak finds himself face to face with the past he is trying to escape. Towles is excellent at writing both the small intimate moments and razor-sharp dialogue. Her finely crafted plot pulls the reader in from the very first page as the richly drawn story reveals the extraordinary courage of a man who gives the ultimate sacrifice to right the wrong. Relentless twists and shocking revelations keep the tension high, and the pacing stays smooth, with the intricate connections among the top players unraveling gradually. Despite the fast-paced action, the novel’s reach doesn’t come at the expense of its psychological depth: Towles does an excellent job of portraying Zak at a conflicted point in his life and showing how he is continuously caught between courage and despair as he tries to untangle the sinister conspiracy at the campus. With mystery at the heart of the story, the novel is steeped firmly in the intrigues of young adult drama, individual struggles, friendship, integrity, duty, and responsibility. Marked by its striking execution and razor-sharp dialogue, the novel places Towles among the best of the genre. Readers will look forward to more of Towles’s work.
By Lisa Towles