Renee at It’s Book Talk began this meme as a way to share old favourites, as well as books that have been waiting on the ‘to be read’ pile for however long, and are finally getting an airing.
This week I’m revisiting Ward Zero by Linda Huber, a very creepy psychological thriller, which was independently published in 2016.
The prologue from the unknown killer’s perspective sets the tension and suspense as he plans how he’s going to murder his dinner companion.
Sarah arrived in the UK from Switzerland two weeks previously for a holiday with her foster mother, Mim. Met at the airport by Rita, Mim’s daughter, who was under strict orders not to tell Sarah beforehand, gives her the worrying news that Mim is in hospital after a cycling accident. Her knee was damaged so badly she needed a replacement. Arriving at the hospital Sarah finds, to her immense relief, Mim is almost back to her usual bright self and more than ready to go home.
Being at Brockburn General again depresses Sarah, bringing back bad memories of her grandmother’s death, when Sarah was fourteen. ‘Blue-lighting up this road, sirens wailing, a paramedic pounding on Gran’s chest…’ And the fact she was an orphan, alone in the world until Mim took her in. It’s a great setting for the story, hospitals aren’t most people’s favourite places.
Petra Walker’s mother, Wilma, is in hospital after a stroke and as Petra sorts through Wilma’s accumulated post she is astonished to find a statement from the bank showing Wilma had emptied her account. Not understanding how this could have happened Petra rushes to the hospital but her grandmother is deeply asleep after a tiring physiotherapy session. It seems someone from the hospital is exploiting the elderly patients, lying and stealing. When Petra disappears Sarah finds herself not only looking after Mim but also Petra’s daughter, Frankie, who is already known to Mim.
He stood in the corridor, the hairs on his arms rising as he watched Vicky usher Mrs Walker into the visitor’s room. No. How could she have found out already? A sickening wave of apprehension swept through him as realisation dawned. She’d have access to Wilma’s post. He’d never have targeted the old witch if he’d known she was going to deteriorate like this.
All these characters, and more, are brought together in a tense narrative as their stories intertwine. We know Sarah has been marked as a victim from the prologue, but not by whom and there is more than one possible villain, with misleading clues and twists thrown in to distract. Suspense builds as Sarah delves into what could have happened to Petra and why, and so draws ever closer to her would-be murderer.
Horror swept through her. Had she been buried alive?
That line gave me chills. I love how Linda Huber takes the reader into the minds of the characters, especially the convoluted mind of the killer who has an obvious personality disorder, and is unable to think rationally when it comes to making life choices or decisions. The plot is fast paced and sadly quite believable, with an engaging, easy to read style and realistic dialogue. I love the very creepy book cover image.
About the Book
On Sarah’s first visit to see her foster mother, Mim, in Brockburn General Hospital, she is sucked into a world that isn’t what it should be.
Someone is lying, someone is stealing. And someone is killing – but who? With a grieving child to take care of, as well as Mim, Sarah has to put family first. She doesn’t see where danger lies – until it’s too late.
If you think you’re safe in a hospital, think again.