Delighted to take part in this week’s blog tour heralding the publication of Tim Adler’s second crime thriller Surrogate. Following Tim’s debut stand alone thriller Slow Bleed reviewed here Surrogate is an equally tense psychological thriller focusing on the possible pitfalls of choosing the wrong person to bear your child. Not all dreams come true in a good way. Read on for an extract, and Raven’s review follows…
I climbed over a hillock and then dropped down onto the sand. Despite the fog, I could make out how bleakly beautiful it was. I started trudging across the corrugated moon landscape and dug my phone out of my waterproof.
She answered after the third ring. “It’s me,” I said. “I’m here. How will you find me?”
“Don’t you worry about that,” she replied. “Just keep walking. Are you sure you weren’t followed?”
“Yes,” I lied. “I’m alone.”
She ended the call, and I turned to face the way I had come. Blankness had already swallowed up the railway station and car park, and you could barely see your hand in front of your face. I kept on walking just as Mole had instructed me to. It had become eerily quiet. The only sounds were the suck of each footfall and the occasional plangent bark of a seagull high above my head. That and the sound of my breathing. I pictured us as figures in a painting she had shown me once, a flat Dutch landscape with two tiny people walking towards each other.
She emerged out of the fog as if somebody had breathed on glass. She was pushing our baby daughter in a buggy and was weighed down with a holdall she was carrying. My first instinct was to check whether Nancy was all right. Our darling baby was buttoned up against the cold, snuggled up in some kind of sleeping bag.
Emily, too, was zipped up, wearing a parka, and my heart thickened in surprise as she removed her fur-trimmed hood.
She had shaved all her hair off.
My wife was completely bald, and she was crying…
How much is your child worth? That’s the question Hugo and Emily Cox must answer when they get a ransom demand for their child – from Alice, the surrogate mother they paid to carry their baby. The police are helpless. No law has been broken — the baby belongs to their surrogate. And Hugo has a secret he’s keeping from his wife that makes their search even more desperate. Now Hugo and Emily must find their missing daughter… even if it costs them everything they own.
Having made the leap from established non-fiction author to thriller writer, Adler’s first book Slow Bleed was well received among the reviewing community and readers alike, and I enjoyed the debut. Admittedly in my opinion there were slight flaws with the first, but what is interesting with Surrogate is the noticeable growth of confidence, and more fluid writing style in evidence here, making for a very readable and intriguing thriller.
The story revolves around the somewhat privileged son of a business entrepreneur, whose father’s grasping and ruthless business style, has caused trouble for the reputation of the family’s insurance business, and his heir apparent Hugo. On reflection, Hugo is not a particularly bad guy and it’s interesting to see how his his world is turned upside down by meeting the flighty, artistic Emily (or ‘Mole’), and how they begin to forge a future together. Due to a nasty twist of fate, that makes them unable to conceive a child naturally, they call on the services of a surrogate to complete their family. However, Hugo is soon to discover that the female of the species is deadlier, and infinitely more devious, than the male, as a series of violent events find him framed for murder and looking for answers. I am somewhat reluctant to reveal too much of the plot, as the gradual inclusion of well-placed reveals, and surprising revelations drive the narrative forward, and shift your perspective of who is good, and who is bad. The plot is controlled throughout, and I did enjoy the confusion and angst experienced by the hapless Hugo at the hands of these women. Yes, it could be said that the plot feels vaguely familiar, but I think that Adler manipulates the premise well, and this certainly did not impinge on my enjoyment of the book generally.
Overall, the characters are well-formed, and despite the less admirable facets of their personalities, I engaged with them throughout, even the ones imbued with scheming minds and general wickedness! I did feel varying degrees of sympathy with them all as the plot progressed, as their dark motivations and damaged psyches are brought to the fore. Even though I cottoned on to one character’s secret, the pace of the story and engaging writing style carried me along nicely to the conclusion, although out of sheer devilment, and to frustrate the reader I would have used the genuinely frightening, but beautifully described atmosphere of Chapter 38 as my closing chapter. See- you will all have to read the book now to find out why…
So all in all, an enjoyable thriller, and a good choice for a summer holiday read.
Surrogate is available to buy from Amazon
Tim Adler is an author and journalist who has written for Financial Times, The Times and the Daily Telegraph among others. His debut psychological thriller Slow Bleed went to number #1 in the Amazon Kindle psychological thriller chart. The Sunday Times called Tim’s latest non-fiction book The House of Redgrave “compulsively readable” while The Daily Telegraph gave it 5 stars. Tim’s previous book Hollywood and the Mob — an exposé of how the Mafia has corrupted the movie industry – was Book of the Week in The Mail On Sunday and Critic’s Choice in the Daily Mail. Tim is former London Editor of Deadline Hollywood, the US entertainment news website. Before that, he edited film trade magazine Screen Finance — described by Evening Standard as “highly influential” – as well as TV business magazine New Media Markets. He regularly features as a pundit on BBC Radio 4′s Today, BBC Breakfast and Sky News. Follow on Twitter @timadlerauthor