Emma Caldridge, a chemist for a cosmetics company, is en route from Miami to Bogotá when her plane is hijacked and spins out of control into the mountains near the Venezuelan border. Thrown unhurt from the wreckage, she can do nothing but watch as guerillas take the others hostage.
An endurance marathon runner, Emma silently trails the guerillas and their captives, using her athletic prowess and scientific knowledge to stay alive. Those skills become essential when she discovers an injured passenger, secret government agent Cameron Sumner, separated from the group. Together they follow the hostages, staying one step ahead by staying one step behind.
Meanwhile, as news of the hijacking breaks in Washington, the Department of Defense turns to Edward Banner, former military and current CEO of a security consulting firm, for help. Banner quickly sends a special task force to the crash site, intent on locating the survivors before it’s too late.
But finding Emma and Sumner is only the beginning, as Banner starts to realize that Emma was on a personal mission when the plane went down. There is more to the beautiful, talented biochemist than anyone ever imagined, for in her possession is a volatile biological weapon in an ingenious disguise, that her enemies have set for auction to the highest bidder.
Recently I was approached by a publisher to read and review "Running From the Devil", a debut novel by author and runner, Jamie Freveletti. The novel's main character is Emma Caldridge, an ultrarunner and chemist, hence the "connection" between my blog and the book. I obliged the publisher and received an advanced reader's edition. Sweet!
Both my wife and I read the book straight through after receiving it. My wife, Joy, really enjoyed it a lot and commented that Freveletti's style is a mix of award-winning authors Suzanne Brockmann and David Morrell. Joy remarked that the plot was so engaging that she couldn't put the book down, and that's coming from someone who's read a TON of suspense novels. I myself, felt exactly the same way. Usually it takes me weeks to finish a book. I finished "Running From the Devil" in less than a week.
Overall, the book is not very lengthy (just over 300 pages) and reads very much like an action movie. In other words, the pace never slacks and Freveletti doesn't waste time with excessive description or details - a writing style I can truly appreciate and one very much like Steven Pressfield, one of my favorite writers. The heroine, Emma, is a veritable MacGyver when it comes to chemistry and her skill comes in handy on numerous occasions throughout the action. Freveletti gives a glimpse about what makes Emma tick, but I was left wanting a bit more. Perhaps that will come in a sequel, which definitely is left open for possibility by the story's ending. I think my biggest and only critique of "Running From the Devil" was that it was perhaps a bit too short and a little thin on character development. In particular, I felt there were opportunities to further develop the relationship between Emma and Sumner, a man whom she meets and seems to have feelings for.
In the end, "Running From the Devil" is a great freshman effort. I am definitely looking forward to a sequel and learning more about Emma Caldridge and her chemistry talents. Hopefully Frevletti's initial effort garners enough attention to warrant a continuation. If you enjoy novels in the suspense/spy/thriller genre, give this title a read. I think you'll enjoy it.
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