Author: Ryan K. Nelson
Published: December 2016 by CreateSpace Independent Publishing Platform
Category: Historical, Fiction, Romance, Action, Adventure, Book Review
When FBI Agent Alex Travis receives an anonymous phone call on a September morning in 1954 with a tip concerning the now cold case of the Cache County Bank robbery, it has his undivided attention. The tip leads Travis to the top of the secluded Green canyon in Logan, Utah, where a young man named Jack Pepper proceeds to tell a story spanning the two years from the time of the robbery, when he and his girlfriend, Kate Austin, stumbled upon the crime of the century for the Cache Valley.
Set in 1950s Utah, FBI Agent Alex Travis is assigned to the Cache County bank robbery case. The distinction of hopefully solving a robbery that had eluded his predecessors appeals to him very much. He decides to make the most of the opportunity, especially when he receives an anonymous phone call from someone, on behalf of another party, who apparently has information about the robbery. He’s in two minds whether to believe it but nevertheless the following day he drives to Green Canyon in Logan, the specified meeting place. There he meets Jack Pepper and hears his story.
But as Jack sat there now, warming in the morning sun, the worry had returned. It was all too possible that message was never delivered. And if it was, it was just as likely that no-one would come. Still he had no choice but to wait it out every day this week as he had said, with nothing to do but fill his mind with thoughts, something Jack had become accustomed to during his time in jail. He had spent much of that time living in the memories of the past, which gave him access to better views than his cramped cell allowed. Now as Jack sat there, sun on his back, hat down low across his forehead and arms folded across his chest, he stepped back inside his mind to his former life in Cache Valley.
I think, from a reader’s point of view, the narrative would have flowed better, and added to the suspense and action, had we had Jack and Kate’s story from their perspectives as it happened, rather than be told about it through conversations with Agent Travis. For the first 50% of the book, the story line was built first by Jack and then Kate, each relating the events of the previous two years regarding their encounters with the bank robbers. I must say, like Agent Travis, I was a little sceptical that the leader of a dangerous gang of bank robbers would immediately confess to the crime and relate the whole story of how it was accomplished to two people they happened to stumble across in the woods. The second half of the story, set in the present, picked up the pace and there were some unexpected twists.
The setting and descriptions are interesting, and the feel of the area comes across. I enjoyed the glimpse into the historical aspects too. The three main characters are likeable and portrayed well but the language used, particularly the dialogue, was overly detailed and a little unnatural. ‘After a necessary sigh, Agent Travis conceded and reached for the phone. “Agent Travis,” he said, speaking with forced authority.’ Unfortunately, I think the book has been let down by the editing and proofreading processes, which is a shame because the basic idea of the story could work well.
I chose to read and review Cash Valley for Rosie Amber’s book review team, based on a digital copy from the author.
Originally from the San Francisco Bay Area, Ryan now lives in Salt Lake City, Utah. He released his debut novel, Cash Valley, in 2016 to critical acclaim, including earning a spot as a finalist for a RONE award and making the Shortlist in the Chanticleer International Book Awards. More books are in the works, including the highly anticipated sequel for Cash Valley, due out in early 2018.