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Book Review: Track 9

Track 9. Sue Rovens. CreateSpace Independent Publishing Platform, April 27, 2017, Trade Paperback and E-book, 221 pages. 

Reviewed by Ed Sarna.

Track 9, Sue Rovens’ second novel, is a suspense/thriller/psychological horror novel that is brimming with shock, terror, and humor. The characters appear to be everyday people who find themselves facing many of the same challenges we all do. Of course, we don’t all find ourselves unable to escape from an ever-devolving series of nightmares. As with her previous novel, Badfish, this book is a fast read, hard to put down, and takes you to places you never imagined.

The first short chapter describes, in graphic detail, a calamitous train wreck in a picturesque small German town. The accident itself and the repercussions after were so horrendous, the station was never reopened. Six months later, Gary and Grace Wolf, an American couple on their belated honeymoon, are set to return to Bloomington, Illinois, from that very town.

The first leg of their return trip is by rail, and because they are running late and not paying attention, they mistakenly end up in this defunct station. Although the station is bereft of living beings, the honeymooners are far from alone. Soon after the realization they are in the wrong station, Gary and Grace discover they can’t get out. And if that wasn’t enough, there also may, or may not, be a train in the station.

As Gary and Grace struggle to find their way home, their best friends back in Bloomington, Mike and Sarah Waverly, await their return. As their arrival time nears, Mike begins experiencing disturbing premonitions concerning his friends. These premonitions eventually spiral out of control, and as his own secure world unravels, he finds himself unable to put the pieces back together.

While the lives of these two Midwestern couples aren’t always what they appear to be, they could easily be our next-door neighbors. As the story races to its climax, we begin to peel back the layers and discover an ever-changing reality. Rovens paints in short, precise strokes, giving us well-developed characters in few words. The world she’s created makes perfect sense, even when it doesn’t. She builds tension quickly and effortlessly and doesn’t back off. Her use of short chapters moves the story along at a breathtaking pace. I didn’t see the ending coming.

The only fault I found in the story, while minor, concerned some unanswered questions at the end. This did not, however, keep me from thoroughly enjoying the story. I stated, after reading her first book, that she was an author to watch for in the future. I am happy to say, I couldn’t have been more right. Do yourself a favor and check out Track 9. I can’t wait to see where she takes us with her next book.


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