- Author: Simon Wood
- Performed by Emily Durante
- Published: March 2015 by Brilliance Audio
- Category: Murder, Suspense, Thriller, Crime
Graduate students Zoë and Holli only mean to blow off some steam on their road trip to Las Vegas. But something goes terribly wrong on their way home, and the last time Zoë sees her, Holli is in the clutches of a sadistic killer. Zoë flees with her life, changed forever.
A year later and still tortured with guilt, Zoë latches on to a police investigation where the crime eerily resembles her abduction. Along with a zealous detective, she retraces the steps of that fateful night in the desert, hoping that her memory will return and help them find justice for Holli. Her abductor—labeled the “Tally Man” by a fascinated media—lies in wait for Zoë. For him, she is not a survivor but simply the one that got away.
Holli and Zoë’s road trip to Las Vegas ended in a way neither of them could ever have imagined. Waking up on the floor of a shed naked and bound hand and foot, Zoë was unable to comprehend how she got there. She remembered stopping for food on their way back but after that, nothing. Then she heard the screams. She had to get out and help Holli. Managing, after several failed attempts, to cut her ties she frantically ran through her options. Unable to see a way to overpower their abductor and free Holli, she told herself the best option was to try and reach her car and get help. Realising neither option would end well she raced for the car.
Over twelve months on from that horrific experience Zoë’s life has altered drastically. Suffering from guilt because she survived and PTSD type symptoms, Zoë is haunted by Holli’s screams for help. She wants to believe Holli is alive somewhere but knows it’s highly unlikely. Having taken up self-defence classes Zoe now works as a mall security guard. She has a tendency to put herself in potentially threatening situations where she can feel in control of her life instead of victimized. The only person she really trusts is her therapist, David Jarocki.
In the year or so she’d been his patient, she’d come to trust him. She felt safe with her thoughts in this room, with him as referee. But she didn’t give him carte blanche to all her emotions. As much as he was the expert on all things to do with the mind, he fell down in one aspect – experience. He hadn’t abandoned a friend to her death. He hadn’t fought against cowardice and lost. He wasn’t a worthless piece of crap like her.
Seeing a news report of a murder victim found locally, Zoë is sure it’s the work of her abductor. Without thinking rationally she races over to the crime scene and her reckless actions get her on the news report covering the story, causing her path to cross once again with the abductor who is never far from her thoughts.
I like the antagonist to have a back story and this one certainly did. There’s no excuse for the atrocities a person like this commits although I can feel sorry for the child he was. The story is told from the viewpoints of Zoë and the killer, which gives a good insight into both characters. The survivor’s guilt feelings, remaining anger, lack of control in certain situations, all the after effects of Zoë’s trauma are described in detail and with realism. It shows how a personality can be reshaped by something shocking and completely unexpected happening and what it takes to get a life back on track. I’d pictured several endings, none of which were correct and I enjoyed Emily Durante’s narration, she did a great job.
About the author
Simon Wood is a California transplant from England. He’s an ex-competitive racecar driver, a licensed pilot and an occasional private investigator. He shares his world with his American wife, Julie. Their lives are dominated by a longhaired dachshund and five cats. In the last ten years, he’s had over 150 stories and articles published. His stories have been included in “Best of” anthologies and he’s a frequent contributor to Writer’s Digest. He’s the Anthony Award winner and a Crime Writers Dagger Award finalist. He’s the author of Working Stiffs, Accidents Waiting to Happen, Paying the Piper, Terminated, We All Fall Down, Asking For Trouble, The Fall Guy, Hot Seat and Did Not Finish. His next thriller is, The One That Got Away due out in February 2014. He also writes horror under the pen name of Simon Janus. Those titles include The Scrubs and Road Rash.