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Book Review: Desperate Paths

Desperate Paths. E. C. Diskin. Thomas & Mercer/Amazon Publishing, March 19, 2019, Trade Paperback and E-book, 340 pages.

Reviewed by Renee James

E. C. Diskin’s fourth thriller takes readers on a breathless thrill ride, replete with characters we care about who are living on the edge and a plot that soars up hills, over cliffs, and down unseen alleys with manic, page-turning abandon.

Set in a rural, southern Illinois county, Desperate Paths is the story of Brooklyn Anderson, a young, mixed-race woman, coming home from New York City to see her father, who has been hospitalized after a serious fall. Her return opens many old wounds for Brooklyn, who never felt accepted by the community, or by her much older sister, Ginny, a beautiful, middle-aged woman with her own family and a deep resentment of Brooklyn. 

At the same time the Anderson family’s tensions are coming to boil, the community of Eden is stressed over the shooting of Darius Woods, a local man who made it big in Hollywood. Woods had written a screenplay revealing long-hidden crimes and scandals that festered in Eden when he was in high school, and the community is buzzing with rumors that the script will ruin lives and shatter dreams. 

Conflicts, fears, and doubts arise in every chapter of Desperate Paths as the secrets of the Anderson family and the community are methodically peeled away.

Author Diskin manages this large cast of characters and ever-shifting plot with impressive mastery. The characters are complex and intriguing, starting with Ginny and Brooklyn, but also including several secondary characters, including Sheriff Wilson and Brooklyn’s father, John. We are constantly trying to decide if they are good or evil, and how they will figure in the final resolution of the story. Similarly, the plot twists occur seamlessly, never feeling contrived, and they keep us on the edge of our seats from the opening pages to the final chapter.

Desperate Paths has the kind of charisma and readability that will make it a starred read for a broad range of commercial fiction fans. For those of us who love character-driven thrillers, it’s a must-read for its original, fast-moving plot, and its deep, textured character studies.


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