If I Run by Terri Blackstock

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If I Run

In a house in Shreveport, Louisiana, a journalist lies dead. He has bled out from savage stab wounds, inflicted by someone who knew exactly where to plunge the knife. A young woman flees the scene. Her bloody footprints surround Brent Pace’s corpse, his blood is on the door handle of her car, and her DNA is all over the scene.

As she Casey Cox runs away, she manages to keep her wits about her. She abandons the car, writes a cheque to pay the rent and cuts her hair in a bus station toilet. Then it’s a Greyhound to… well, anywhere will do. Casey Cox is smart enough not to see her journey through to the destination on the ticket. She hops off the bus during a rest break, and heads elsewhere.

Meanwhile, the Shreveport PD process the crime scene and issue an APB for the fugitive. Surely, a case couldn’t be more cut and dried? Brent Pace’s grieving parents, dismayed at the limited resources available to the Shreveport cops, hire one of their son’s childhood friends to track down Casey Cox. Dylan Roberts has a distinguished war record, but after leaving the army with post traumatic stress disorder – after all, he did watch his buddies being atomised by a Taliban IED – he is trying to establish himself as a PI. Dylan’s involvement is welcomed by cops Keegan and Rollins, who realise that he can go places they cannot reach.

The narrative is first person, from the viewpoints of Casey and Dylan. This gives the story a drive and an impetus, but it also means that even before you are fully immersed in Casey’s tragic background you will feel that she is somehow an innocent party. Dylan, by the same token, clearly has to be the incorruptible seeker after truth, and the man whose investigations will right wrongs and punish evil deeds.

Casey changes her name and gets fake ID, seeking refuge in Shady Grove, Georgia. Meanwhile, Dylan begins to suspect that he is being used by all and sundry. He learns that the 12-year-old Casey was the first person to discover her father’s corpse, swinging from a beam. Tom Casey had uncovered a web of graft and corruption woven through the Shreveport PD, involving none other than the officers Keegan and Rollins.

Tugging away at loose threads, Dylan discovers that Tom Casey was not suicidal, but was killed just as he was about to lift the lid on Louisiana’s biggest case of police corruption. His dilemma is that he must earn the trust of the fugitive Casey, while not revealing to Keegan and Rollins that their crimes have been discovered.

Casey manages to stay ahead of her pursuers, and also discovers the whereabouts of a missing teenager, long since consigned to the cold case files of local police. Her dilemma is painful. Should she rescue young Laura and her baby, victims of a sadistic kidnapper – or should she keep out of the limelight, and preserve her false identity?

The ending of the book doesn’t provide complete resolution. Some wrongs are righted, and the major players retain their integrity. Although the dramatic finale to the story certainly turns up the heat, there remains a sense that important issues are not resolved. Reading the author’s notes in the review copy, it is clear that Blackstock is a committed and enthusiastic Christian. That’s fine, but I did wonder how much Casey and Dylan should attribute their salvation to God, rather than their own abilities.

If I Run is out now for Kindle, and comes out in print on 31 March.


CFL Rating: 4 Stars

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