Thomas & Mercer: 4/25/17
eBook review copy; 284 pages
The Ridge by John Rector is a recommended sort of sci fi, sort of domestic thriller, with a wee-little zombie undertone.
Megan and Tyler Stokes have moved from Chicago to Willow Ridge. Willow Ridge is middle-class employee housing for the Institute, a research center where Tyler now works, and is hundreds of miles from civilization. It's a planned community with four allowed house colors, open manicured lawns, and a Stepford-like vibe in the air. What Megan is really angry about is the neighbor across the street, Rachel Addison. Rachel has been flirting with Tyler, propositioning him, and Megan is not about to let that infraction stand. When she goes across the street to confront Rachel, Megan ends up throwing a tantrum and Rachel ends up dead - but maybe not. When Megan tells Tyler about the accident, he goes over to investigate and Rachel is there, answering the door.
Is Megan losing her mind? It seems like she must be because now she's noticing off behavior in others and it looks like Rachel might be entering the territory of the walking dead - that is until the clean-up crew comes late one night. It seems that neighbor David Mercer might have more information that he's kept hidden, but he is reluctant to openly talk about anything because he knows they are all being watched. What is really going on in Willow Ridge and at the Institute?
While The Ridge is basically well written and has a simple easy to follow narrative, it does suffer from a lack of real suspense and tension being created to make Megan's situation seem more dire and terrifying. You really end up feeling, at first, that she's losing her mind and the story is going to be her sinking into madness - unless the zombie-like Rachel was real or if Mercer's hidden information is legitimate. Megan also seems a little too excitable and eager to overshare her suspicions with people. Discretion doesn't seem to be a trait she exhibits. The creepiness factor is occasionally there, though, which helps some. The ending is interesting.
Disclosure: My review copy was courtesy of Thomas & Mercer.