After picking up his sixteen-year-old son, Ryan, from the cinema one evening, Jake Buckman decides to let him practise driving home along a seeminly quiet street. It is a decision that will alter the lives of their family forever, as Ryan hits a jogger, who does not survive. What follows is not a clear-cut hit and run, but a split second decision by a father who will do anything to protect his son.
But just how much can a parent sacrifice to protect their own child?
And how will Ryan cope with the consequences of his actions?
I picked this up in the library because I thought it sounded like a similar premise to one a read and really enjoyed last year called ‘Mice’ by Gordon Reece. Sadly I was disappointed because it was nowhere near as good.
Jake is a successful business man who owns his own company and Ryan is an up-and-coming high school basketball player who is being scouted by universities. They don’t have the closest relationship so Jake decides to go and pick Ryan up from the cinema one Friday night so they can spend a bit of time together. On their way home Ryan begs his dad to let him have a go at driving along a quiet road and Jake, desperate to make amends with his son, agrees. It is a decision that will change their lives.
Shortly after Ryan takes the wheel he hits something at the side of the dark road. Thinking it was a deer, Jake gets out to check that it is OK, but what he finds is much worse. Ryan has knocked down a runner. Jake tries to revive her and urges Ryan to call the emergency services, but Ryan has been hiding something. He smoked weed earlier in the evening and still has some on him. Worried about the implications this will have when the police arrive Jake makes a split second decision – the girl is already dead, there is nothing they can do to help her, so to save their own lives they’ll leave the scene.
When Jake gets home he realises the enormity of his decision and the effect that keeping it secret is going to have on the both of them. He has to lie to his wife to explain Ryan’s odd, tearful behaviour and stays awake all night deciding what to do next.
Throughout the book, Jake is a planner – he has to carefully think out each move to divert suspicion from him and Ryan. Matters are complicated by the fact that his wife is a high court judge and is about to be promoted so the family will be placed under an FBI investigation to check that they aren’t hiding any criminal secrets, and Jake isn’t sure that Ryan will be able to withstand the pressure, especially when they discover that the girl Ryan killed was in his year at school.
I don’t want to give too much away, but I found the end of the book a bit too unrealistic. I thought it had the potential to be a really good story, but I didn’t particularly like the writing style and I found Jake annoying so I didn’t feel much sympathy for him. Overall it was quite a good thriller, but it could have been better.
Making the decision to have a child—it is momentous. It is to decide forever to have your heart go walking around outside your body.