We see many novels promoted by comparing the work to other successful, talented writers. It is easy to compare Pushed Too Far by Ann Voss Peterson with novels by Blake Crouch and J. A. Konrath. Peterson has co-written spy thrillers with Konrath. She thanks J. A. Konrath, Maria Konrath and Blake Crouch in her acknowledgments. Were the claim of similarity made, it would be truth in advertising. Which is almost an oxymoron, but I digress.
This excellent thriller will appeal to readers who like to see a feminist protagonist overcome serious challenges. Val Ryker has many of those. A small-town police chief in Wisconsin, she obtained her position in advance of seniority rights by a successful prosecution of a serial killer. Fame allowed her to claim the position over an assumed successor after the retirement of Chief Schneider. Val had considered Schneider a valuable mentor and, in a town where everyone knew everyone, his support meant much to the town citizens.
Val’s problem was not that Dixon Hess was guilty of murder; there were implications of several murders he had committed. Hess was not charged with similar murders; he was charged and convicted of Kelly Lund’s murder. The state case against Hess was based on the identification of Kelly’s incinerated body found in a barrel. Although DNA identified the body as a Lund, it wasn’t Kelly. Two years after the murder occurred, Kelly’s body surfaced in a lake. She was dead a second time and the death was recent. Val’s position was in danger and a convicted murderer would soon be set free. Hess had his own idea of social justice, one that was extreme. For Hess, it was not an eye-for-an-eye; he believed in total, gruesome annihilation of everyone who had ever wronged him. Val, and everyone around her as well as everyone connected to the case, were in danger.
As if Val’s professional life didn’t contain enough turbulence, her private life simmered at a low level with long-lasting problems. Cancer had killed her sister and Val stepped up to raise her sister’s teenage daughter, Melissa. Although Val did not feel burdened by the task, Melissa was a teenager with all problems that seem to be part of a teenager growing up. Val considered Melissa over-protective with her desire to become more involved in Val’s professional life and the re-opened case against Hess. Melissa became more aggressive with her insistence on helping Val after Melissa discovered a diagnosis of Val’s multiple sclerosis, a genetic disorder as Val informed Melissa.
This is a fast-paced thriller which will motivate readers to continue to the end without stopping. Readers may want to schedule this for a weekend read so as not to show up for work bleary-eyed. As Dixon Hess pursues his course of exacting revenge against several people, the descriptions of torture may bother some but trigger warnings are not necessary. Pushed Too Far fits comfortably in a horror/thriller genre. Fans of the genre will not be offended. Sexual situations are extremely restrained as far as description.
Ann Voss Peterson is a successful novelist with over thirty novels to her credit. This novel, published in 2012, is an additional affirmation of her talent. I look forward to reading more of her works in the Small Town Secrets. Pushed Too Far is USD 4.99 on Amazon and is free with a Kindle Unlimited subscription. My rating is four plus Amazon stars.