Kirkus review of The Devil's Safe

Kirkus review of The Devil's Safe

When a woman accepts an invitation to stay at her best friend’s house for free, she has no idea she will land in the middle of a standoff between dangerous drug dealers in this novel.

All Stella Fargo wants is to start graduate school and then return to her job at Millis Portland,

a mental health company, and never hear from her abusive ex-boyfriend, Martin Reiman, again. That will be difficult considering he is not only a managing partner at work, but also won’t stop leaving threatening messages on her phone. Then Stella wakes up during the night in her best friend Kit’s house to find intruders. The three men who broke in are looking for something left behind by Augie, Kit’s recently deceased husband, related to his drug trafficking business and a bunch of missing money. And then there is Egan Bogart, Augie’s associate who is fresh out of jail, a shady figure who shows up at Kit’s on that very night. He is all banged up after being tortured by the same disreputable trio and hangs around Stella for better or worse. With the police suspicious of Stella and Egan’s possible past involvement with Augie and the menacing men on their trail ready to break bones, the pair needs to quickly discover answers before things escalate. Complicated family dynamics involving Stella’s parents as well as Kit’s make things even more confusing and perilous. From the get-go, Holt’s fast-paced tale of two bystanders who get pulled into a storm not of their own making drops Stella—and readers—into a tense situation that feels out of control. The author proceeds to deliver an exciting series of twists and turns. But readers will eventually have a hard time getting their bearings when faced with the muddled narrative style and Stella’s vague storytelling. It’s difficult to get a handle on who Stella and Egan really are, and the tale feels remote and disconnected despite the thrills. Featuring abrupt transitions, unnatural sounding dialogue, and superficially defined characters whose motivations and reactions are often perplexing, the story ultimately falls apart.

An action-packed but uneven thriller. (Thriller. 18-Adult)

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