Book Reviews

What I’ve Been Reading: On the Run by Scott Stevens

On the Run is an action/suspense thriller from the Milford House imprint of Sunbury Press – the publisher of my novel. Scott Stevens is a talented author and former sportswriter that Sunbury added to their stable in early 2019. This novel is one of three books he has written, the other two being Twister Town and On Ice. On the Run is available through Sunbury and Amazon. The other two are available on Amazon, although they will be re-released by Sunbury in the future.

On the Run is an interesting take on the suspense genre. It takes the motif –made popular recently by things like Breaking Bad– that puts “normal” people directly into the criminal lifestyle. In fact, like Breaking Bad, this book even specifically has a regular guy dealing with a powerful drug cartel that has seemingly limitless strength and non-existent compassion. The novel also explores the idea that it becomes much easier to continue committing crimes and testing your moral boundaries once an event occurs that forces you to do so, even if that event was happenstance and completely outside of your control.

The regular guy in On the Run is named Dwight Cobb. He’s a successful author with an artist wife who frequently attends art shows to sell her works. After doing what they think is a friendly favor at a show in Miami, they find themselves in the middle of a serious drug deal. Eventually, said drugs and Dwight’s wife go missing, and he is left in a perilous situation with a member of a Cuban drug cartel. The cartel, headed by the ruthless Rosa, is not sure of the nature of Dwight’s involvement with the botched drug deal, so they react in the only way they know how; threats, pressure, and violence. Through a fast-paced series of turns, the story takes the characters to Los Cabos, Mexico, where the situation eventually comes to a head in a satisfying conclusion.

My tastes tend towards more literary fiction, and I don’t read a lot of straight suspense or action thrillers. The novels I read typically use precise detail and deep introspection for character development. Often, the plot is drawn out slowly and in a more ambiguous way. Some might describe this as tedious or boring, but it is my preference for reading as well as my own writing. That being said, I still like to mix it up and read something out of my ordinary realm.

Since the book is so focused on delivering action, it did take me a few chapters to get into the rhythm of it. Again, that’s more because of my normal reading choices and not a flaw of the book. On the Run is definitely exciting from beginning to the end. I heard Stevens discuss on a podcast that he tries very hard to produce a story with constant action in every chapter. This sounds simple, but it’s not an easy thing to do and still have a tight plot that all comes together cleanly. It’s also vastly different from the way I approach crafting a novel and that actually makes it interesting for me to read with that in the back of my mind.

On the Run is an intriguing page-turner where you feel like you’re looking over Dwight’s shoulder while he dives headfirst into a dangerous criminal world. With a desperation and nervousness that leaves the reader feeling the same way, Dwight keeps running forward despite not knowing exactly what he’s going to do with his next step.

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