“To escape, you first have to set yourself free.”
A book with intriguing cover art? Yep. Solid characters we grow to know and love? Yep. A plot that leaves you emotionally wrecked? Yep! I really enjoyed reading this one – if you’re after a bit of a thriller combined with romantic suspense, then Escape is definitely one to add to your (probably ever growing) TBR list.
Escape by L. A. Davenport follows the story of John – a doctor who is on holiday after losing his wife quite suddenly and unexpectedly. After an unfortunate incident in the Mediterranean, he becomes the suspect of a murder. Can he collect the evidence needed to clear his name in time? Can he really trust the police, or are they a part of a corrupt operation that he really shouldn’t be meddling with?
The first thing I noticed was that the book switches between first and third person a lot. I liked the idea of this; we explore what Dr Hunter is feeling, as well as what is going on around him. However, a lot of the time, this seems to be done in the middle of the same paragraph – it’s a little confusing and not really clear enough in my opinion. Maybe the change of tense could have been split into different paragraphs to make it clearer and easy to read. I did understand why Davenport had done this though, and it’s a great idea – switching tenses in a book must be difficult, but very effective too if done right!
I really admired the amount of emotional description in the beginning of the book. We immediately understand that Dr Hunter is experiencing some kind of loss and longing for something or someone he once had. As I reader, I could really understand this pain thanks to some great description – from the little actions he did to how he was around people, we can feel his unhappiness – I thought this was really well done.
The chapters at the start of the book seemed to be very short and the same scene was split over the first four chapters which I found rather strange. However, on the flip side, it does provide shorter, easy to digest chapters. I think splitting up the book regularly like this does have its advantages in some cases, such as to give a reader time to process what is going on in a story, but maybe these chapters could have been double the size, covering the whole of a scene instead of cutting off halfway through.
“The water seared his skin and he welcomed the pain.”
I felt like the beginning of the book started off quite slow – all Dr Hunter seemed to do was sleep and feel sorry for himself. I think I’d have liked to have seen a little more action to speed things up, or to maybe cut down on the amount of text in these slower chapters. We do get a good idea of Dr Hunter’s persona though and eventually, we do read a scene that is quite mysterious – one that leaves us with a few questions. I hoped this was the way the rest of the story would leave me feeling!
We quickly learn Dr Hunter’s first name is John, and he seems unable to get away from Charles, an employee at the hotel where he is staying, who has latched onto him for some reason. He seems mysterious and know’s John’s name before he has a chance to tell him. I quickly had a feeling he was not to be trusted and that he knew something about John that he wasn’t sharing. I really liked how there were so many things for us to discover, and I was constantly wondering when we’d get to find out!
There was a particular scene that I really liked, where John took a phone call from one of his work colleagues. We only get to hear half of this conversation – John’s side. With his responses, we gather many questions about why he needs time away from his usual lifestyle and what he’s actually having time away from. I really liked how Davenport is constantly keeping his readers on their toes. We aren’t quite sure what to expect at this point, and it was interesting to find out whether things would stay this way, or if we’d find out exactly what is going on. I thought this would work either way, however much or little we find out.
Davenport has perfectly captured the large amount of feelings someone may go through after they hear some terrible news or suffer significant loss. John cycles through many emotions – one minute he may feel calm, the next angry or guilty. I thought it was very clever how John’s ‘demon’ comes out to play when he feels particularly vulnerable, resulting in him making some bad choices, ones that he usually regrets.
John soon meets Jasna, a friendly face in the middle of an unfamiliar place. He begins to confide in her and trust her with things that he hasn’t told anyone else. She seems to be the crutch he’s needed for so long, and it was really nice to see how their relationship grew. I really liked the creation of this character and how the pair met. Davenport has captured these characters well, and it’s apparent that character creation is his forte!
A large section of the story seems to be more about John getting drunk and battling with his emotions. The more I read, the more I understood the book is mostly about how he “escapes” the harsh reality of his life and his own head, instead of escaping from something much bigger and potentially more dangerous. Clever! A different approach to a story that I didn’t really expect at first. Maybe it was just me, but I liked the unexpected twist!
“They said they understood my pain, that they sympathise. But they had no idea.”
As things become more serious between John and Jasna, something goes wrong (sob). This causes the little pain that was starting to subside in John, to become twice as hard. Not only that, but John soon becomes a person of interest with the police. It’s frustrating to us a reader, as we know John doesn’t commit the crimes that they are accusing him of. However, they don’t know this, and even at this point in the book, there’s a great plot unfolding. It makes us emotional to read what John goes through and makes the ending seem that much more exciting to get to.
There are still a few strange goings on that I was really intrigued to find out about. Why did Charles seem to spend an awful lot of time with John? Why, when he left the police station, was a taxi sent to pick him up, without him telling anyone where he was? I liked how there were still some unanswered questions at this point. I had my own theories as to how things would go, and was really keen to see how the story unfolded!
Towards the end, things become even more unexpected. John and Charles begin to bond over a mutual feeling of loss, and decide to join forces in order to get some answers and justice for the people they loved. I felt like the story had really taken an unexpected turn here and it quickly turned into one of my favourite genres! I was really invested at this point, probably the most I’d been all the way through. I read through the end rather quickly because I didn’t want to put it down!
As a reader, we go through so many emotions as things draw to a close. My thoughts for the end of the book were constantly swapping and changing as different scenes came to light and as things got even more intense. Main characters are in danger, there’s a bit of violence and quite frankly, we aren’t sure how the ending will go.
“There is something far more complex and dangerous happening here than you can comprehend.”
I think the ending of the book was done well. We see enough questions answered to be given a bit of closure, but there are things left unsaid to let our imaginations fill in the gaps. A great ending in my opinion. I even think there was the opportunity for a sequel, but I guess that’s for another conversation!
After a slow beginning, I feel like this book redeemed itself well in the second half. Escape really captures exactly how a person feels when losing a loved one. The strong emotions the main character felt were reflected in a way that made me stop and think a little. I must congratulate Davenport on this – he’s done an incredible job.
I feel each character has been created with care and each of the main characters were memorable and solid. I thought Charles’ character was perfect – he was strange enough for me to question in the beginning, but by the end, my view of him completely changed – I loved it!
A huge thank you to L.A. Davenport for submitting his novel for me to read and review – it’s been a pleasure! You can purchase your own copy of Escape from Amazon, available on Kindle or paperback. You can also follow him over on Twitter for more updates!
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