Say Nothing is a fast-paced, emotionally gripping thriller that brings together political, legal, and financial intrigue balanced against the lives of two young children. From the first page, the plot is already on the urgent when Judge Scott Sampson receives a text from his wife telling him not to pick up their twins from school. When his wife comes home later than evening he learns she had not sent the message.

And thus begins the harrowing unraveling of the Sampson’s happy lives as the kidnappers pressure him to rule on one court case to prove their power over him before pressuring him for a high stakes ruling. Meanwhile, Scott and his wife Alison must keep up the facade of a normal life while scandal over the first decision risks his ability to deliver on their demands.

The story reveals how even the strongest families can crack under pressure and how insidiously suspicious and distrust can invade those cracks and fracture their lives.

4-starsThis is a tense, read-until-you-finish, can’t-stop-won’t-stop kind of thriller. When I finished reading it, I was exhausted from the suspense and emotional havoc. Yes, I cried even though I sometimes felt manipulated to cry.

It’s not a perfect book, the family rituals were a bit twee and the scene with emmybear and sammybear was too obviously written to wring us out through an emotional mangler. Child jeopardy stories are like that. We identify with the parents’ fear and ache for the children. The line between tension and manipulation is faint and most of the time Parks stayed on the right side of it, but not always.

The worst book I ever read in my life was a ridiculous mystery a friend insisted I read. It was called Inside Passage to Murder. I could list 20 appalling things about the book, but one of them was so beyond reason that more than twenty years later, I still recall my disgust. There is a mob hit man who is supposed to shoot a witness. He shoots, he misses, and kills another woman, the wife of an elderly man who assures everyone, “It’s okay, she had cancer.” Gah!

Without saying anything to spoil the book, I can assure you there are no hitmen in Say Nothing and no one is shot accidentally. But there is a parallel tradeoff, a devaluation of life limited by cancer. How ridiculous, each and every one of us has no idea of our time on earth and the most healthy person in the world can be struck by a car, lightning, a meteor. There is chance to life that makes that kind of assumptions about whose life can be taken unacceptable. In this case, it diminishes the courage and sacrifice someone makes, as though it’s easier to be brave when you have cancer. Of course, people do seek justification and rationalization and find ways to make the awful more bearable. So, if it helps the grieving to grieve, fine. Just remember, though, is a case of the author not being brave enough to write about loss in its entirety.

Say Nothing will be released March 7, 2017. I was provided a digital galley from the publisher through First to Read.