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Mission Canyon by Meg Gardiner
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Meg Gardiner’s second novel in the Evan Delaney mystery series shows the same assuredness of storytelling that won me over in “China Lake” but ends up being a far more satisfying and complete reading experience.

Several years ago, Evan’s boyfriend, Jesse, was paralyzed in a hit and run incident. Jesse’s good friend was killed and all the evidence pointed toward it being a deliberate hit and run incident, with the car’s driver, Franklin Brand, going on the run. Now, Brand is back in town, but for what purpose?

As Evan follows Brand to make sure he doesn’t leave town, she’s slowly drawn into a web involving the incident and who the real target of the incident was. As Evan uncovers the truth of what happened and why, her own life becomes threatened and the discoveries she makes could fundamentally alter her life and her relationship with Jesse.

I came to the Evan Delaney series after reading Gardiner’s “The Dirty Secrets Club” and being impressed by it. Hungry for more, I picked up “China Lake” and while there were snippets of what I liked from “Secrets” in there, it still felt like a first novel. With “Mission Canyon,” the trappings of a first novel are gone and Gardiner settles in with a satisfying, page-turning mystery thriller that sets everything up well and then delivers a nicely done payoff in the end. I want to say this story is a bit more personal for Evan, but that would be doing a disservice to “China Lake” since it was a story about her protecting her nephew in peril from an evil religious cult. The big difference is that it feels like Gardiner doesn’t have as big an axe to grind here with the antagonists and they come off as far more effective and threatening that way. They’re not quite the evil, moustache twirling kind of villains that we got in “China Lake” and the book is a lot stronger for that.

Also, having had a novel to get to know Evan, the book is more successful as we see and hear Evan’s relentless belief in those she cares about and her dogged determination to defend them. It makes one of the novel’s turning points and twists a bit more shocking when you come to it. It also helps to make Evan grow as a character and not just be a stock, plucky female private investigator.

All in all, “Mission Canyon” is a far more complete and satisfying novel than its predecesor. I wonder if I’d read it first if I’d regard it as highly as I do “Dirty Secrets Club.” After all, part of the fun of a novel author is the joy of discovering their tricks and storytelling technique in the first novel you’re exposed to. ( )
  bigorangemichael | Mar 2, 2009 |
I picked this one up on Stephen King's recommendation (and I couldn't find China Beach!). First, you can read this book without reading the first Evan Delaney adventure. I don't usually read mysteries, and this book did contain some of the cliche conversation and style, but the suspense was amazing. Every time I thought I would put the book down at the end of a chapter, the cliff-hanger made me turn the page and keep reading. The villains were clever, the good guys even more so, the romance not intrusive, and the twists believable and well-timed. Overall, a very good book! ( )
  jtho | Jul 16, 2007 |
This follow up to China Lake Was an enjoyable read with plenty of tense moments. But it was not as good as its predessor. The humour seemed to detract from its beleivabilty as did an over complex plot.
I do however still expect to enjoy the next. ( )
  SimonW11 | Sep 10, 2006 |
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0451224728, Mass Market Paperback)

After a hit-and-run accident leaves a friend dead, Evan Delaney wants justice. But she underestimates the power of the person responsible. When the witnesses begin dying one by one, Evan is unprepared for the dark places retribution will take her.

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:05:49 -0400)

(see all 4 descriptions)

While bicycling in the foothills of Santa Barbara, Jesse Blackburn and his friend Isaac are struck down by a hit-and-run driver. Isaac is killed, but Jesse survives. Now he wants revenge, and his fiancee, Evan Delaney, wants justice. Neither is simple. Evan and Jesse underestimate the power of the person with whom they're dealing, and of the dark places where retribution will take them. As witnesses to the crime start dying one by one, it is apparent that no one can stop the killer--least of all Evan, who's next on his list.… (more)

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