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Review: A Time To Run

A Time To Run
J.M. Peace
Pan McMillan Australia
Time to run is the debut crime novel from J.M. Peace, the pseudonym for a current serving Queensland Police Officer. It’s a cleverly written crime thriller/police procedural that introduces us to Detective Janine Postlewaite, a determined and dedicated cop investigating the suspicious disappearance of one of her own. She’s also dealing with her own demons, seeing too many dead people, not sleeping and regret. All the hallmarks of the onset of PTSD.

Set in South East Queensland, Time to run tells the story of Sammi (another young female cop) who heads out on the town with a girlfriend after an arguement with her boyfriend, Gavin. She does the unthinkable at the end of the night; leaves her girlfriend and accepts a lift from smiling barman, Don Black. She finds herself drugged, confused and in the back of a utility on her way to a remote forest.

And it’s not the first time Don Black has kidnapped a young girl. He likes to hunt; kidnap, set free and hunt girls through the forest. Once he finds them, he kills them. But he doesn’t know Sammi’s a cop. Not that it matters, he plans to conduct his little game regardless. When Sammi doesn’t turn up for work late the next morning, alarm bells go off and the cops start to backtrack. Their enquiries soon lead them to Black. Then the race is on to find her.

Time to run is written from the third person point of view, but is cleverly narrated throughout by switching from one POV to another. From the victim Sammi herself, to the antagonist Don, to the detective Janine (and some of her colleagues) to the boyfriend (and early suspect) Gavin. The story is told in a chronological time order, which really intensifies the pace and gives urgency to the narrative. The hunt is on to find Sammi, and the use of time points instead of chapters is a refreshing and effective way to highlight the tension.

This story gives a great insight into being a country cop, the way things play out in the bush and the characters. During the hunt for Sammi, and then the bad guy Black, the author introduces Gerry, a small town walloper who manages to locate him on a remote highway. It’s a fantastically funny and gripping scene, awash with all the colloquialisms of an old-time lazy country policeman.

Time to run is a fast paced, well-written thriller with a few twists and an interesting angle. The ending did seem a bit premature, but this hardly detracts from the story’s pace. It’s a great debut effort from J.M.Peace and the next instalment in her writing career will be much anticipated.

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