Kim Hammond is back today to review Daniel Palmer's latest, Constant Fear.
"Death doesn’t schedule an appointment."
This is the gripping first line in Palmer’s 5th standalone. We meet single father Jake Dent who has been raising his son Andy since he was a toddler diagnosed with diabetes. Once Jake had it all, a beautiful wife and child, and a professional career in baseball, until one bad decision took it all away and threw him into a downward spiral.
After a long bought of depression that cost him more than he’s willing to talk about, Jake’s the head custodian and grounds manager at prestigious Pepperell Academy run by his brother. It’s not pitching in the major leagues, but it puts food on the table and Andy gets to attend school at “The Pep” as the kids called it. Jake couldn’t have afforded the education otherwise and for that he’s grateful.
He’s even dating again. Jake met Ellie Barnes, a local police sergeant in Winston, at the range, but they realized they had a connection when she told Jake she trained service dogs for people with diabetes and he confessed Andy’s battle with the disease. But Ellie knows Jake’s hiding something from her. He won’t commit any further in their relationship and he doesn’t get into a lot of personal things with her.
Jake can’t tell Ellie about how he got out of his deep depression. He doesn’t want her to judge him or worse, walk out on him. He was at a low point in his life when he came across a survivalist blog by a man named Thomas Wiggins. The blog helped him feel empowered and inspired and made him feel secure again and in control of his life for the first time in a very long time. It made him get out of bed again and care for Andy, instead of his parents doing it for him. But he has become a little extreme with his GOOD Pack (get out of dodge), and his hidden BOL (bug-out location) fully stocked with food, supplies and weapons. Jake‘s ready for the end of the world and he plans on he and Andy surviving.
The last thing 16-year-old Andy wants to do is humor his father by participating in night drills where they run through the woods like the devil is on their heels to get to their hideaway under The Pep through its series of secret tunnels. Andy wants to be with his close group of friends working on their Robinhood scheme. They call themselves The Shire and this group of six kids are robbing from the rich to give to the poor. The adolescent hackers take small sums from rich Pep parents and donate the money to worthwhile charities.
All was going well until they stole from the wrong man, and their “small sum” turned into $200 million dollars. Suddenly they had the attention of a vicious Mexican cartel who didn’t care how they got their money back or who they had to kill to do it. A staged chemical spill and fear of contamination enables them to kidnap The Shire. Jake’s suddenly a father that is willing to sacrifice his life to save Andy and his friends, and this doomsday prepper may be the only hope these kids have.
I enjoyed this book and liked the characters even though Jake initially came across as a bit weird. He ended the book as a hero. He really was just a father just trying to protect his child and as a mother I know I would do anything for my daughter. The story line was interesting and believable, although the bitcoins subject was a little above my head. I think Palmer's writing is growing with each book and I look forward to his next one.