Sydney Sheldon * Are you afraid of the dark

Rating: 3.5 out of 5.

In New York, Denver, Paris and Berlin, four people have died separately in apparent accidents. Two women — the widows of two of the dead — find themselves under ruthless attack and are drawn together in fear, confusion and for mutual protection. But are they being targeted because one of them is the prosecution witness at a famous criminal trial? Or is there a connection to the mystery behind their husband’s deaths? Meanwhile, Tanner Kingsley,

Chief Executive of an international Think Tank created only seven years ago, is on the cusp of an amazing discovery which could alter the future of the world. If properly handled, the outcome of this could deliver unbelievable power into the company’s hands. But are the mysterious deaths connected to this volatile secret? And can it be further protected?

Thrown together, the women could not be more different: Diane Stevens is a well-connected, affluent artist from the Upper East Side. Philadelphia neighbourhood with a new ‘uncle’ every month, believed she had at last found safety and contentment in Paris, married to a brilliant scientist.

Taut with suspense and vivid characterization, and with an unnervingly realistic premise that could alter our lives, ARE YOU AFRAID OF THE DARK is Sheldon at the top of his form.

“Kelly, before you walked out there, the audience thought you were just a beautiful, untouchable dream, a fantasy, out of reach. When you tripped and fell, it showed them that you’re human, and they adored you for it”

This felt so much like a Dean Koontz novel, I had to check and double-check the cover as I was reading. A government agency which uses new technological means to capture two smart women on the run? I know GPS tracking was still in its infancy in 2004 when the book was written and Faxes were still a thing but I had to bow my hat to the innovative ways the baddies are trying to out the two women: cancel their cards so they won’t have money, track their cells, use a sim card in the business cards given to them when they first met, voice changing software, number spoofing, paying off everyone they could find from the taxi people outside of airports to concierge plus a litany of hired killers who each want to either kill or rape the women.

I grew bored after a while at the mentioning of those “bitches” and started a little drinking game for this book.

  • Drink a shot when Tanner hits or belittles his low IQ brother
  • Drink a shot each when one of the women outsmarts one of Tanner’s boys
  • Drink a beer when Tanner says the word Bitch or complains how they’ve escaped “yet again”
  • Drink when weather forecasts are shown
  • Drink when the women reminisce about their perfect dead husbands who loved them regardless and could not hurt a fly. I mean, I started assuming they were saints at this point.
  • Drink when Paris is mentioned
  • Drink when the women are called gorgeous
  • Drink when the women go shopping for clothes they don’t need
  • Drink when Diane’s voice is recognised by the voice recognition system Tanner has in place.

So as you can tell, I was pretty drunk by the time the book was finished but kinda entertained too? It was a thrill ride to see what the Scooby Gang will escape from next? And omg, did we really have to listen to the word “stiff and turgid” when referring to penises? I had enough of that in Dean Koontz – Whispers – Psychopaths and turgid nipples.

Some of the tech has not aged with the book. DVDs and CDs? A big panel to track GPS moves? Recorder tapes? Eh, good but not great.

And the book could have been an absolute eyebrow raiser if the women were actually shot at the end (spoiler) and not just fake shot by the horny killer who wanted to have their way with them. Imagine if the bad guy really won? If his trap finally worked? I would have given this book a solid 5/5 and recommended it to everybody. Good does not always have to triumph over evil and retribution is not always a thing. Life isn’t fair.

But hey, a horny side had to ensure he didn’t listen to his boss and shoot fake bullets to ensure his willy gets wet from unwilling participants. And he’s not the first one in this book. If you’re squeamish, there’s an 8-year old Kellie abused by one of her mother’s boyfriends. That was hard to read, but important to the plot as she could never sleep with the lights off – thus the title.

And yeah, the entire plot of the book was designed to raise awareness that the US and Russia have a treaty not to use their current weather -control weapons in a nasty warfare.

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