Review: Kill Switch

Kill Switch

by Neal Baer and Jonathan Greene

Reviewed by Judith Reveal | Released: December 13, 2011

Publisher: Kensington (288 pages)

“There are some interesting twists and turns as the story winds down—and yet the resolution of the child abduction seems to take the reader on a separate path away from the original story offered up at the beginning of Kill Switch. As a mostly visual presentation for TV, this story has potential; as a cerebral narrative in a novel, the reader has to work too hard.”

With the background of authors Neal Baer and Jonathan Greene behind it, Kill Switch is destined to be either a made-for-TV crime thriller movie or the pilot for a new TV crime series with a mix of psychology and forensics as its base. In either case, it will be a good presentation for the genre—on television. As a novel, not so much.

Although the story is interesting, the narrative often falls back into passive writing and slows the pace of the reading and instances of convenient characters appearing just when the main characters are about to go over the cliff takes away from the ingenuity of the characters.

Kill Switch opens with a two-decade-old abduction of a young girl, an event that always remains close to the surface in the mind of the main character, Claire Waters, who watched her best friend get kidnapped. The action moves to Rikers Island correctional facility, present day, where Claire, now a budding forensics psychiatrist, is assigned to interview Todd Quimby, a convicted abuser who is up for parole. Her recommendation will make or break his chances.

Todd does achieve his goal and shortly after his parole, the murders start. Claire immediately pegs him as the perpetrator and the search begins. The tough cop, in the character of Nick Lawler initially disbelieves her story, but as the bodies pile up, he reluctantly joins forces with Claire to hunt Todd Quimby.

Both main characters carry their own baggage—Claire’s guilt at not saving her friend from abduction, and Nick’s fight back from a false charge of murdering his wife. Add to that, Nick is going blind; certainly not an affliction that any strong cop wants on his resume.

The story tracks along as a search to find Todd until a high speed chase ends with Todd Quimby driving his car off the Brooklyn Bridge into the East River. Quimby’s body is retrieved, and he is definitively identified. Claire returns home relieved to see the end of this crime spree, only to find her lover, Ian, the victim of a gruesome murder.

The story now takes a sharp turn when Claire takes a leave from her job and returns to her parent’s home, where she faces her other devil—the abduction of her childhood friend. It is at this point in the story when Nick ferrets her out, and they take on this new challenge together, several hundred miles away from New York City.

Convenience tends to take over when Nick and Claire begin work on this past crime. Nick contacts a friend at the Rochester PD, and immediately gets full access to all the files on the childhood abduction. The clues lead almost too easily in several directions, moving between an old crime and a new one.

There are some interesting twists and turns as the story winds down—and yet the resolution of the child abduction seems to take the reader on a separate path away from the original story offered up at the beginning of Kill Switch. As a mostly visual presentation for TV, this story has potential; as a cerebral narrative in a novel, the reader has to work too hard.

This book review was prepared for the New York Journal of Books and is reprinted with their permission. Please visit their website: www.nyjournalofbooks.com for a complete listing of book reviews.

Reviewer: Judy Reveal lives in Maryland. She is the author of Around Greensboro and the Lindsey Gale Mystery series including Cheating Death, The Music Room, A House to Kill For, and historical fiction (2013) The Brownstone.

© Roy Bartels 2012