Saturday, May 22, 2010

Suspense cycle

Shift, by Jennifer Bradbury--Have you ever had a friendship that seemed so close and so important, you knew it would last forever? And then you slowly realized it had faded away? Or, maybe you could pinpoint the exact moment of falling-out: a major argument, a long-distance move. What if your friend simply disappeared?

Chris Collins and Win Coggans have been best friends since grade school. After graduating high school, they bicycle across the country from West Virginia to the state of Washington. They plan to spend a day or two with Win's uncle in Seattle before catching a bus back home to get ready for college. Only, a day before they reach Seattle, Win keeps going while Chris stops to change a flat tire. He vanishes, leaving Chris to finish the journey to an unfamiliar city and without the name of Win's uncle. Circumstances during the trip have been such that Chris does not tell either family that Win left him. When he gets back home, he tells the families what happened and answers a bunch of questions. He believes Win abandoned him deliberately and is by turns hurt, angry, and worried.

Shortly after Chris begins college classes, an off-duty FBI agent comes to see him. Win's father has hired him to investigate Win's disappearance. Mr. Ward tells Chris there is no uncle in Seattle, and the mystery really takes off.

The story moves along at a good clip, although the alternating past/present of the chapters was a tad frustrating sometimes. I developed a lot of sympathy for Chris and, against my better judgment, Win. He seems to be all jerk, but there are moments when he really comes through for Chris and for them as a team. Solving his disappearance becomes critical, and in the end, conscience-searing.

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