Review copy was received from Publisher. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.
One Step Too Far by Lisa Gardner
Narrator: Hillary Huber
Published by Brilliance Audio on January 18, 2022
Length: 11 hours, 48 minutes
Amazon, Audible, Barnes & Noble, Apple
Frankie Elkin, who readers first met in Before She Disappeared, learns of a young man who has gone missing in a national forest. Law enforcement has abandoned the search, but a crew of people led by the young man's father are still looking. Sensing a father's desperation, Frankie agrees to help--but soon sees that a missing person isn't all that's wrong here. And when more people start to vanish, Frankie realizes she's up against something very dark--and she's running out of time.
I loved Before She Disappeared and thought it would make a great series. My wish was granted and One Step Too Far is the second book in the Frankie Elkin series. Lisa Gardner has long been an author I have enjoyed and I am thrilled with this new series. Here’s what I had to say about the first book, which developed the world and introduced us to Frankie:
… The world is well-developed with the grit of ordinary and desperate lives. The characters also feel so authentic with the nuances of their personalities and relationships drawn for the main characters, the families, the police officers, the neighborhood people, the school personnel and everyone from those at the bar to the coffee place and the transit workers, and the people who attend AA meetings.
Frankie is a recovering alcoholic with no special skills beyond tenacity and the fortitude to uproot and reinvent her life each time she finds a new case to solve. She tackles the “unimportant” missing, mostly teenagers, who are poor or minorities or both. It reminds me of the Equalizer except Frankie doesn’t have the weapons, physical training or any kind of technical or financial resources. However, Frankie has some street smarts and she just doesn’t give up. Oddly, she’s a bit of a luddite with technology.
Frankie starts off to look for an 8 year old boy and gets side tracked reading about a young man who has been missing 5 years from a campout for his bachelor party. What catches her eye is his mother dying of cancer and just wanting to know what happened to her son. Frankie does not have the best skills or experience for this particular type of wilderness search but she knows a little and has the most determined perseverance. She is easy to love with her total commitment to the missing, no matter the danger.
Frankie has her guilt and nightmares from her past, and her time of bingeing alcohol. We get more of her background and flashbacks to her younger life. But she doesn’t let it take over her life. She is dedicated to the search above all else.
Frankie heads to the small Wyoming town near the wilderness and finds the search team. She inserts herself in by taking the place of one of the original friends at the bachelor party who is obviously not up to it. There are two halves to the 8 team members. There are the “professional” well trained including the father, a law enforcement guy, a search and rescue woman with her cadaver dog, and a Bigfoot searcher. Then there are the three college friends and Frankie, who are not really in shape for the trip.
The hike into the wilderness is grueling and quickly becomes terrifying as there are many mishaps with stolen food and injured members of the team. It’s a fast-paced fight for survival with the team clueing in to the dangers a bit too slowly.
Frankie spends time getting to know them all and learning about the past which played into the current search. The college friends do not want to do this but they feel obligated because Tim disappeared and is presumably dead since he was the most skilled outdoorsman of the group. The group really works hard to help each other and save their lives as things continue to go wrong.
Just when it seems things are resolved and they can find closure for the past, Frankie clues in to another twist.
Hillary Huber is one of my favorite narrators so I have chosen to listen on audio. I enjoyed her performance of the characters, both male and female, with distinct voices. Most of the story is in the point of view from the main character, Frankie, and she brings her to life for me. I listened at my usual 1.5x speed.
Listen to a clip: HERE
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