Title: Fear the Worst
Author: Lynton Barclay
Release Date: August 11, 2009
Publisher: Bantam Publishing
Genre: Crime Fiction
Rating: 2.5 out of 5
Summary: Sydney Blake’s summer is shaping up to be typical for a teenager: she’s spending it with her father, and she has landed a part-time job at a local hotel. One night, Syd fails to come home from her shift, and her father Tim begins to panic after he visits the hotel and the manager claims that Syd has never worked there. As the list of unanswered questions grows, all Tim knows for certain is that he must continue searching for his daughter no matter how high the stakes become.
Fear the Worst, like most stories in the genre of thriller fiction is plot-based and relatively simple. It's the story of single dad, Tim Blake, spending the summer reconnecting with his teenage daughter, Syd. But what grabs the reader's attention from the start is that Syd goes missing after only her second week at a new job . What ensues is a fast-paced, action-packed thrill ride with twists and turns around every bend that keeps the pages turning quickly. A law-abiding dad who will leave no stone unturned to find his only daughter is something readers can understand and sympathize with, if not necessarily relate to. Of course, Blake's anguish makes sense as does some of his less-then-sound judgments considering that he's frantic to find Syd.
I found two basic problems with the book, however. First, too many plot tangents in the search for Syd are left hanging and never resolved and second, some of those that are resolved don't make sense. At times the story seemed little more than a vehicle for a mild-mannered dad to become this centuries' James Bond.
Tim Blake is a likeable character and a good dad. He's also one of only two or three fully developed characters in the book. Unfortunately, his daughter Syd, is barely two dimensional and we only know Tim loves her instinctively as a father. The why's of it and details of who Syd is are few and far between. Another main character, Detective Jennings (who appears to have a partner in only one scene, which also seems to be a contrivance of convenience), conducts almost no investigations and asks few questions of anyone beyond Tim Blake, leaving us to wonder if she's implicating him. Beyond making the most basic of connections the police seem unable to get anything accomplished in the story. Their very ineptness makes Tim look like a regular Perry Mason.
This roller-coaster ride of a story comes to a sudden end leaving the reader with several unanswered questions. I turned the page expecting a final chapter or an epilogue and discovered the story was over. The story doesn't need to be wrapped in a nice package and tied with a bow at the end, but when plot lines are left hanging and too many characters lives unexplained, it leaves the reader feeling like something is missing and looking for more. Fear the Worst is an exciting story filled with adventure, intrigue and suspense that left this reader wishing for resolution, clarity and a more comprehensive ending.