by Simon Wood
My rating: 3 of 5 stars
Reviewed for Amazon under the Amazon Vine Voice Program
Simon Wood’s latest thriller, Terminated ( Thomas & Mercer 2012) chronicles a he-said-she-said saga that forces the victim to use dramatic solutions when none of the legal remedies work. Gwen Farris receives a promotion a co-worker, Stephen Tarbell, believes should have been his. When she reviews the man poorly, he cracks and decides to force her to change his review by physical force. When she fights back, he attacks her reputation and her family, ultimately getting her fired. When it becomes clear to Gwen that the law doesn’t believe her side of the story, she comes up with a risky plan to solve her problem, one that calls on an old enemy to help because she has no where else to turn.
I’ve read a few of Wood’s books and they have a similar structure. He starts with a typical–almost predictable–layering of crisis upon crisis until it’s almost impossible to see how the hero will survive. Then, Wood uses highly creative solutions to pull success from the ashes of the character’s life, ending up in personal growth on the part of the main character. Terminated is no exception. I found myself rushing through the first hundred pages because I was pretty sure–and I was right–I knew what would happen. Tarbell threatens Gwen with a knife in the company parking lot, violence being a tool learned from an abusive father we meet later in the story. When the company’s private security firm gets involved, Tarbell turns to psychological intimidation and techie computer skills to destroy Gwen’s reputation and get her fired. That should have solved it, but Tarbell blames Gwen (in a scene that is more about narrating his actions than convincing us the reader that they make sense) when he still doesn’t get the manager job, so continues with his vendetta against her and her family.
The build-up is predictable with several leaps of credibility that were hard to swallow. Why did Tarbell so completely decompensate when he has done nothing like that in the past? We’re left to assume something was a ‘trigger’, but what? Where did he get the computer skills to sabotage Gwen? He ‘looked on the internet’–really? Is that all it takes to fool law enforcement? Wood explained why Gwen agreed to keep the police out of the picture when she was first attacked, but why did the company do the same when the escalation got out of control? Yes, Wood provided reasons, but I wasn’t convinced. Then there’s the coincidence of Gwen being violently attacked twice in her life–by men with knives. A bit convenient for my thriller taste.
Once I got past that (as I say, about one hundred pages), Wood’s writing genius kicked in and I was hooked. The action never stopped, with clever twists and turns that kept me reading when I should have been catching up on my professional blogs. Overall, I’ll keep reading Woods.
Jacqui Murray is the author of the popular Building a Midshipman, the story of her daughter’s journey from high school to United States Naval Academy. She is webmaster for six blogs, an Amazon Vine Voice book reviewer, a columnist for Examiner.com, Editorial Review Board member for Journal for Computing Teachers, Cisco guest blog, Technology in Education featured blogger, IMS tech expert, and a bi-weekly contributor to TeachHub. In her free time, she is editor of a K-8 technology curriculum, K-8 keyboard curriculum, creator of two technology training books for middle school and six ebooks on technology in education. Currently, she’s editing a thriller that should be out to publishers next summer. Contact Jacqui at her writing office or her tech lab, Ask a Tech Teacher.