For the installment this week, I selected "Vengeance" by Brian Pinkerton. Like the recently released anthology "Murder To Mil-Spec" justice and the repercussions of dispensing justice is a theme here. Those repercussions have consequences which are frequently ignored in most books. That is not the case here.
For schoolteacher Rob Carus the future appears to be great. Beth Lawter has accepted his proposal of marriage and the couple is extremely happy. Rob has finally found the one woman he wants to spend the rest of his life with. That future is shattered when Rob and Beth on separate bicycles are hit by an SUV that flees the scene.
As the vehicle with Illinois tags leaves their broken bodies and mangled bicycles behind, Rob manages to tell a good samaritan the license plate before losing consciousness. While paramedics are able to help Rob, as is the hospital he is soon transported to, nothing can be done for Beth who died at the scene. Rob is devastated and his recovery, both physically and mentally, certainly isn’t helped by the fact that the negligent driver is allowed to get away with it by the courts.
Rob becomes obsessed with making the driver pay one way or the other. Something the man who identifies himself as Trey Wright plays upon when he comes to Rob with a plan. There is a secret organization known to its members as “The Circle.” Each member is a survivor looking to make the person who killed a loved one pay the ultimate price of death. Trey pulls Rob into a scheme for vengeance that backfires in ways Rob never saw coming.
Like in his enjoyable novel “Abducted” justice is a theme in this work. In this case, the justice theme takes the form of vigilante justice something that has been explored in countless movies and books over the years. However, instead of the often cartoonish violence surrounding the concept frequently used in other works, here the author explores the emotional angles to the concept. Not only the motivations for the act, but the guilt as well as joy after justice is served is explored through several characters besides Rob. In interesting secondary storylines, obsession in the form of a young student’s attentions upon an older teacher is also explored as well as the idea that the mistakes of the past are never really over for anyone.
The result is a fast and fun read that features interesting characters, a few twists and plenty of action to keep the reader tuning the page. In so doing, the author puts his own spin on the age old question as to how far one would go to right a wrong. Something that seems to become increasingly relevant these days.
By Brian Pinkerton
Mass Market Paperback
Kevin R. Tipple © 2005, 2010