*complimentary review copy received for this post.You might think that since I didn't grow up with computers as a part of my life (my kids still think this is strange), that I would be more cautious around them, have a certain amount of distrust. That's not to say that I share information willy-nilly over the internet...I do try to think before I post on my blog, on Facebook, on Twitter. But, I am completely at ease ordering from retailers online, doing my banking online, and registering for contests and the like. I always expect a certain amount of security from those sites and never felt that my data was at risk.
But, what if an employee or an owner on one of those sites, who was otherwise a good person, had a need and felt that they could 'borrow' an identity for their own benefit?
In Stolen, the third techno-thriller novel from Daniel Palmer, John Bodine is faced with a challenge. With him being self employed with an online gaming business and his wife Ruby studying to pursuer a new career, they have a basic, cheap health insurance that doesn't provide the best benefits as they learn after Ruby is diagnosed with cancer. As he pursues options to get help in covering the medications and treatments that Ruby needs to fight the illness, he learns that there are insurance plans out there that do cover the medication in full. Plans that could help his wife fight the battle against her illness. As he learns, he begins to hatch a plan. With some techno-savvy skills, he locates a customer of his site that is similar in age and married and confirms that he has the 'right' insurance, and heads down a path of identity theft. John, who was generally a good person, made a bad decision, in a desperate situation. They set up a new residence and become another couple - starting fresh with a new doctor and all.
Everything seems to be going well, until it isn't. Ruby is getting the treatments that she needs, and although they are leaving her feeling weak, they seem to be working. Then, unexpectedly, the couple is contacted by their 'victim'. He tells them that he won't report their fraud, in exchange for playing a game of 'Criminal'. In this game, they are faced with challenges of escalating criminal activity. These challenges are a complete departure from things that they would do, but the problem is, that if they fail to successfully complete the challenges or don't even try to complete them, not only are they risking exposure of their crimes of identity theft and insurance fraud, but they are also risking the life of someone else, someone near them. How far will they go? What crime is too much for them to bear?
The future has never looked brighter for Boston couple John Bodine and Ruby Dawes. John’s online gaming business is growing, Ruby is pursuing her dream career, and they’re talking about starting a family.
Then Ruby receives a life-changing diagnosis, and their cut-rate insurance won’t cover the treatment she desperately needs. Faced with a ticking clock, John makes a risky move: he steals a customer’s identity and files a false claim for Ruby’s medication.
The plan works perfectly–until the customer in question contacts John with a startling proposition. If John and Ruby agree to play a little game he’s devised, he won’t report their fraud. The rules of ‘Criminal’ are simple: commit real crimes. Fail in their assigned tasks, and there will be deadly consequences.
The book is simply fabulous! I received an advanced reader's copy from Daniel Palmer for this review and I am so glad that I didn't have to wait until the book is officially released on April 30th.
Daniel Palmer has the ability to weave together an amazing tale that really makes you stop and think. The characters are well developed and relate-able and concern for their well-being leaves you unwilling to put down the book. I found myself reading every second I could find. I simply needed to find out, who was this 'victim' that John had chosen in his quest to save his life? How could it be that someone was as twisted as this victim in the game that he was forcing them to play and the consequences that occurred when they didn't play along as he wanted.
I love to read thrillers and this thriller did not disappoint. If you are a fan of thrillers, I highly recommend the books of Daniel Palmer. You can pick up Delirious and Helpless in paperback, if you want to check them out while you wait for the release of Stolen. Stolen is available for pre-order through the typical online book retailers, and will make it's way to your local bookstore in a couple of weeks on April 30th.
No compensation was received for this post. A complimentary advanced reader's copy was provided for this review. All opinions expressed are my own or that of my family.