I knew I would have trouble setting the book down within minutes of starting it. It began with a terrifying scene of five young college friends camping in the Wyoming wilderness on a bachelor weekend. What happened would change their lives irrevocably. One Step Too Far is an immersive book packed with mystery, tension, twists, surprises, a wonderfully vivid and dangerous location and characters that imaginatively support an enthralling story. The novel is cleverly structured to keep the momentum high, anxiety taut and twists exciting.
On a stag weekend in the Shoshone National Forest, Tim O’Day and his friends; Neil, Scot, Miguel and Josh, experience a commotion and wailing one night. They take off running only to discover when they reassemble, Tim is missing. In the many searches that followed, Tim was never found, and now at the fifth annual search, there is a mood that this is the last time they will undertake this exercise. Led by Tim’s ferociously driven father Martin, Tim’s friends, Nemeth a local hiking expert, Bob a bigfoot hunter, Luciana and her cadaver dog Daisy, and Frankie Elkin, are the group that will undertake this latest search.
“My name is Frankie Elkin and finding missing people is what I do. When the police have given up, when the public no longer remembers, when the media has never bothered to care, I start looking. For no money, no recognition, and most of the time, with no help … Why do I do what I do? Because at the end of the day, the people left behind matter as much as the ones who are missing.”
Lisa Gardner has a fantastic ability to introduce a wide array of characters with intriguing backgrounds in a measured way that helps savour the different personalities contributing to the story. Frankie is the main protagonist and a tremendous character that works well in the setting and the life mission she seems to be on. While I appreciated her thought process on the search and how she deals with people, I’m still trying to fully understand why she chooses to manage her income in the way she does. The psychology behind the other characters is fascinating, and the group of friends need to find a way to move forward and get on with their own lives but do they harbour a secret?
The search is full of danger, and it isn’t too long before things start happening that look like someone is trying to jeopardise the search and put everyone’s life in peril. What starts as a hunt for Tim ends with each being hunted.
“Eight people head into the woods. A grieving father, a hiking guide, three college friends, and three semi-professional searchers. On the surface, it makes sense. So why do I have a feeling eight of us won’t be coming back out?”
This is first-class entertainment for thriller lovers, and I highly recommend reading this book. I also want to thank Penguin Group, Dutton and NetGalley for providing a free ARC in return for an honest review.