Gripping and suspenseful, Checkmate by Jean Hackensmith will have you on the edge of your seat and rooting for the good guys.
Eighteen years ago, Caryn Deaver's husband tied her up, along with their two children, locked them in the bathroom and set fire to their house. They survived and Dan went to prison for eighteen years. But now he's out and he's looking to finish the job...and this time he wants to include Zach, the new man in Caryn's life. Can police captain Brian Koski find Dan before his sadistic game ends up in Checkmate?
With Checkmate--the first book in the Brian Koski "Stalker" Series--Hackensmith has added another dimension to her writing career. I got totally caught up in the last book of hers I read, The Ultimate Passage--which I reviewed here. Typically a writer of time travel and historical romance, this is Hackensmith's first attempt at romantic suspense. Hopefully she'll continue.
In addition to the full slate of realistic and complex characters found within Checkmate, Hackensmith has written a novel that pulls you in from the first word to the last. The subplots compliment the main plot and all are pulled together at the end--which is superbly done.
The reader can both understand Caryn's hesitation to get too involved with Zach after trusting her ex-husband the way she did and sympathize with the frustration Zach feels over Caryn's lack of commitment to him. And Dan's game puts these two characters through the ringer. Hackensmith pushed these characters to every limit they had.
The high level of research Hackensmith performed is obvious in her realistic portrayal of Dan, who as an ex-cop manages to use his on the job training to keep eluding Brian and members of the Sixth Precinct. Hackensmith also performed thorough research on the training and usefulness of protection dogs, and made Mika (Zach and Caryn's protection dog) into a wonderful canine character who readers will also fall in love with.
Kudos go out to the designer of the cover. The burning house partially overlaid with a black square and two chess pieces truly captures the essence of the book.
What a powerful start to a series! I eagerly anticipate the next book.
Title: Checkmate Author: Jean Hackensmith Publisher: Port Town Publishing ISBN-10: 1-59466-116-2 ISBN-13: 978-1-59466-116-7 U.S. Price: $14.95