Aussie Book Review: Run to Me by Diane Hester

Run to Me
My Rating:                    4 / 5
Format:                        e-Book, courtesy Random House & NetGalley
Publication Date:        01/03/2013
Extent:                          384
ISBN:                            9781742756424
Imprint:                         Bantam Australia
RRP:                             AU32.95

The Blurb

“It’s been two years since Shyler O’Neil’s beloved son Jesse was killed – but his final moments are as vivid to her now as they were that dreadful day. Suffering from post-traumatic stress, and convinced she did not do enough to protect him, she retreats to an isolated cabin in the woods of northern Maine.

Meanwhile, Zack Ballinger – a ten-year-old boy who has never known a mother’s love – finds himself in the wrong place at the wrong time. He’s seen too much and is now running for his life.

Fleeing into the woods, Zack soon finds himself at Shyler’s cabin. He’ll take whatever help she can give – even though, for some reason, she keeps calling him Jesse …

With the pursuers hot on their heels, “mother” and “son” go on the run. Protecting Zack may well be Shyler’s one chance at redemption.

Either that, or she is the child’s greatest threat …

Run to Me is a suspenseful, impossible-to-put-down thriller with riveting twists and turns …

‘A tight, taut page-turner that romps along from the opening page’ – Jaye Ford, author of Beyond Fear”

Overview and Thoughts

Did she or didn’t she? This novel keeps you guessing from the very first page!

Still reeling from the tragic death of her son two years before and after the accusations levelled at her by both her husband and town, Shyler O’Neil became a recluse, preferring the solitude of her cabin in the forest where she is able to wrestle her inner demons.

Haunted by visions of the faces of those she believes to be the perpetrators of the vile act committed against her son and suffering with a debilitating panic disorder, she escapes reality by carving wooden sculptures and bird feeders which she uses to barter for supplies at the town store, keeps contact with people to a minimum and becomes spooked when there are children around.

Ten-year-old Zachary Ballinger, along with his two foster brothers and their kidnappers are about to be thrown into a journey fraught with danger. Having been abducted from their neglectful foster parents, Zack, who’s never known a mother’s love and who’s always been left to his own devices, soon becomes aware that the two “social workers” who removed them from the care of their foster parents are not who they purport to be, but are in fact interested in him only because they believe he witnessed certain criminal activity and is therefore privy to information they require.

Whilst in town one day collecting supplies, Shyler literally stumbles over Zack after he barely escapes recapture by his pursuers and crawls into the back of her vehicle which leaves her trying to decipher whether he was just a figment of her imagination! What Zack thinks is going to be a place of safety soon becomes his worst nightmare! If only she would stop calling him “Jesse”.

From dodging bullets to escaping the charge of a male moose, Shyler and Zack are on the run, but trying to fit all the pieces of the puzzle together is Dr Chase Hadley who, after tending to Shyler twice at his medical surgery, becomes somewhat obsessed by her mysterious façade and feels that whilst there is something untoward wrong with her, there is an underlying pull to discover more of this strange woman who has no address nor telephone details on the medical file. And why does nobody in town know anything about her? After trying to glean information from the previous retired town doctor, he finally goes through his patient records in an attempt to extract information – which leads him to Shyler’s estranged mother, Patricia.

What he discovers when he finally locates Shyler’s remote cabin leaves him both disturbed and bewildered and sees him fleeing to his practice to call for help only to end up staring straight down the barrel of a shotgun being held by a terrified woman with a white-knuckled grip.

Now with a desperate woman, an ill and somewhat hostile child and some seriously wicked pursuers who will stop at nothing, Chase will need to determine whether his telephone conversation with Shyler’s ex-husband has any merit! And Shyler? While Zack may think she has more than a few marbles missing, she realises that she has no choice but to place some kind of trust in Chase if her and “Jesse” are to emerge unscathed!

With multiple shifts in perspective alternating between protagonists and antagonists, along with short, sharp sentences and paragraphs, Diane Hester’s debut novel is a taut psychological thriller with a well thought out plot.

All in all, a highly enjoyable, compelling and suspenseful read with all the elements of a page turner, from an author who will certainly be added to my favourites list.

My thanks goes to Random House Australia for providing me with an eARC.

About the Author

Before commencing her career in writing, Diane was a professional violinist. Born in New York, she attended the Eastman School of Music and went on to play in the Rochester Philharmonic. In 1978 she secured a position in the Adelaide Symphony and has lived in Australia ever since.

Diane has performed in Carnegie Hall, the NY Metropolitan Opera House, Eastman Theatre, the Sydney Opera House, Melbourne Town Hall, Adelaide Festival Theatre and accompanied artists as diverse as Isaac Stern, Itzak Perlman, Chuck Mangioni and Australia’s Little River Band.

In 1989 Diane realised her childhood dream to live in the country when she and her family moved to a small farm outside Port Lincoln, South Australia. There she switched from performing to teaching violin and explored other creative outlets including gardening, spinning, knitting and carpentry. An animal lover, she also ran a donkey sanctuary for several years and dabbled in harness driving and riding.

But since discovering writing, Diane has done little else. When she isn’t hard at work at her latest novel she’s planning her critique group’s next retreat or a workshop for her local writing club.

Run To Me, her debut novel, combines a love of Hitchcock-style suspense with memories of summer vacations in New England, her favorite place on earth.

These days Diane’s hobbies include juggling, movies and the study of creativity, learning and achievement.

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