The Safe House
Chris Ewan
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Buy *The Safe House: A Thriller* by Chris Ewanonline

The Safe House: A Thriller
Chris Ewan
Minotaur Books
448 pages
December 2012
rated 4 of 5 possible stars

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Rob Hale is still reeling after his sister’s suicide, conscious of his parents’ grief and brave attempts to survive the tragedy. On the Isle of Man, most folks know one another. Rob’s dad was once a star of the island’s annual motorcycle race, with Rob following in his father’s footsteps. A heating engineer by trade, when Rob is called to make a repair at a cabin in an isolated spot by a beautiful blonde with two surly male companions, he is more than willing to concede to her request to sneak away for a ride on his bike. The adventure ends with a bone-jarring accident.

When Rob wakes up in the hospital with a head injury and broken shoulder, he finds that the local detectives—the first on scene to interview him—disbelieve his story of a missing blonde companion. Returning home, Rob is introduced by his mother to Rebecca Lewis, a private investigator who once knew his sister, Laura. Rebecca believes Rob about the circumstances of his injuries. She agrees not only to help find the missing girl, Lena, but also the truth behind Laura Hale’s sudden and unexpected suicide. What appears a simple mystery is, in fact, a complicated network of opposing interests, from British Intelligence to eco-terrorists to Lena’s father, a powerful player in the oil industry.

Rob’s naiveté is the first casualty of his association with Rebecca. The two return to the scene where Rob first met Lena, where they begin the arduous task of untangling a web that reaches to high places in industry and government, filled with dangerous characters with suspect loyalties. The problem: figuring out whom to trust with any information they find. They also need to learn the identities of those who are following them, possibly more than one team. Eventually Rebecca shares with Rob intimate details about Laura’s work for the government and the risks she was taking when she died.

Ewan stocks his thriller with action and confused identities from the first page, masking the motives of teams of agents acting on behalf of competing interests, the motives behind Rob’s accident and Lena’s disappearance. One thing is certain: Rob and Rebecca have barely scratched the surface of the situation Laura was involved in or why she felt it necessary to take her own life. Recent events suggest that Laura needs Rob, even posthumously, to put together the final pieces of the mystery. He is determined to do just that, in spite of the violent actions of those pursuing him.

Motives and intentions are slow to surface, but once the whole ugly picture is laid bare, it is obvious that a high-ranking government official is involved, not to mention the professionals hired by Lena’s wealthy father and two renegade assassins prepared to finish off any threats. Ewan doesn’t shirk from the physical details of the characters’ confrontations—which are graphic. Both Rob and Rebecca are brutally beaten and locked up. The plot is wide-ranging, beyond the local politics of the Isle of Man (and the limited resources of the island), from the activities of British Intelligence to a group of eco-terrorists and the industry in their cross hairs. Once this novel heats up, there is no let up. Ewan pushes the agendas of the main players to the highest level, but not beyond the reach of those determined to seek revenge for a foul murder. Ultimately, the last chapter is just as satisfying as the first.

Originally published on Curled Up With A Good Book at © Luan Gaines, 2012

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