by Terrance Mc Arthur
& Simon Wood
This week we have a review of the new book by Simon Wood, The One That Got Away. We also have a very interesting guest post from Simon about his research methods. Details at the end of this post on how to enter to win a signed copy of The One That Got Away, along with a link to purchase the book where a portion goes to help support KRL & supports indie bookstore Mysterious Galaxy.
We also have a recent video interview with Simon and mystery author Catriona McPherson that took place after a Sisters In Crime meeting in Fresno.
The One That Got Away By Simon Wood
Review by Terrance McArthur
Zoë and Holli, two grad students, were drugged and kidnapped, but Zoë is the one who escaped. Fifteen months later, her “survivor’s guilt” and PTSD turn into panic and rage because a killing in the Bay Area has some uncomfortable similarities to what happened to the girls.
First, Zoë has to convince the police that she’s not crazy. Then, she has to convince them that she’s not a killer. After that, she has to survive a relentless serial killer who remembers her in Simon Wood’s thriller as The One That Got Away.
Wood paints some clear psychological pictures of damaged people, here. Zoë has plummeted from doctoral candidate to mall cop, putting herself into danger situations at work and on the dating scene. This type of behavior can happen to trauma survivors who try to make up for the guilt they feel for living when someone else has died. The killer is driven by a compulsion to “punish” people for their bad behavior. Each, in their own way, has become trapped by the demons of their pasts.
This book is unsettling. What the killer does is brutal and disturbing, from the torture he inflicts to the way he marks his prey. The life that Zoë has chosen as her own punishment for not trying to save her friend is not a nice one, and some reviews tag her as unsympathetic. Her coping mechanism has been to cut herself off from family and friends as she perceived their lack of understanding of her choice to live, a choice she hates herself for making. I understand her feelings through my own experiences with survivor’s guilt. In the end, she is able to inwardly atone and prove that she has grown beyond her ordeal.
This is a book I will recommend. It hit me until I shook, but I stayed with it. My personal connections to the emotional content propelled me through it in less than five hours (Your results may vary). At the end, I felt that some of my own ghosts had been sent on their way.
Simon Wood has been a race-car driver, a pilot, a petroleum engineer, and a private investigator. He has also been a successful author, honored by his peers. The One That Got Away should be another success. Be a part of that success by reading Zoë’s story.
Walking The Mean (And Not So Mean) Streets
By Simon Wood
With most of my books, I tackle subjects that I don’t really understand. That means I have to do a lot of research and I tend to do my research first hand. Now there are a few reasons for this. First, I’m dyslexic, so the thought of spending hours in a library poring over books fills me with dread. Second, I’m an engineer by training. If I’m going to write something that’s believable and authentic then I need to have done that thing and more than likely taken that thing apart and put it back together again. Third (and the most important for me), I like to do first hand research because through interviewing someone face to face or carrying out a task, something wonderful and unexpected happens. You go into the interview wanting to know something and the person doing the job has a cute shortcut for doing it. And it’s those little details that gives way to greater authenticity and character depth.
Let me illustrate. A few years ago, I got to go inside San Quentin State Prison. I learned how the inmates were handled, the procedures, the cellblocks, etc. Those were the surface things I learned. The gold I learned was that with the advent of female corrections officers working at San Quentin (they make up over 20% of the C.O.’s working there) the Playboy centerfold is outlawed. Pinups are OK but the models have to be clothed. Who knew! And in one of those strange quirks of fate or possibly by design, the prison’s death row sits opposite the memorial for the corrections officers who’ve died in the line of duty. These are things that aren’t going to be in the official press releases.
Sometimes I don’t need someone else’s help, I can do it myself. I wanted to know how to break into a house, so I used my own as a model. I broke in through the front door, patio slider and the window. I used different methods and different tools to see what worked best. I used my house because I was working on the premise that should anyone call it in, I can’t be arrested for breaking into my own home—right? If not, at least I’ll learn all about how a bails bondman works.
And I’m not adverse to a dash of social experiment in the name of research. For a story I wanted a shooting to take place in broad daylight and in a tourist hotspot in San Francisco but nothing really worked until I stumbled across the park next to Fort Mason. It was secluded but busy with people passing through. I wanted to see how people would react to a gunshot, so I set off a firecracker behind a bush. Everyone’s reaction was the same. They stopped, looked, then carried on with their business. No one investigated and no one called the cops, because not many people really know what a gunshot sounds like for sure. It could have been a backfire or a firecracker. That moment of human decision was all I needed. It meant I could shoot someone in broad daylight and have nothing happen (for fictional purposes, that is).
So yes, I like to do my research in the flesh because the world doesn’t quite operate the way it should in the manual and as people, we’re a pretty colorful bunch—and that always makes for a good story.
To enter to win a signed copy of The One That Got Away, simply email KRL at krlcontests@gmail[dot]com by replacing the [dot] with a period, and with the subject line “One,” or comment on this article. A winner will be chosen March 21, 2015. U.S. residents only. If entering via email please include your mailing address.
Video Interview with Catriona McPherson & Simon Wood:
Check out other mystery articles, reviews, book giveaways & short stories in our mystery section.
Use this link to purchase this book and a portion goes to help support KRL, and indie bookstore Mysterious Galaxy: