3 out of 4 stars
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The Shack by Peter Van Schie is about two middle aged friends who are reunited after years of no communication. While vacationing with his wife in Tasmania, Frank decides to seek out his old pal, Sean. After a great deal of searching, the two are finally reunited and Sean, the owner and sole resident of a desolate fishing shack, is eager to have Frank for company. A strange encounter with an old acquaintance makes the two realize their past actions have led to a string of deadly events. Frank and Sean are thrown into one crazy situation after another; a rogue detective, the Italian Mafia, and multiple assassination plots are all at the forefront of The Shack. Throughout the book, the shack stands as an ominous symbol where nothing good ever seems to take place.
For the most part, Frank and Sean are likeable characters and their actions, though ludicrous at times, never seem out of character. The most endearing qualities about the two related to their complete “averageness.” Both guys have experienced marital issues, professional bumps in the road, and are now just trying to enjoy life. These qualities not only made the protagonists likeable but also relatable. Even the bad guys in The Shack have appealing qualities. For example, one antagonist with a penchant for the Brothers Grimm constantly embellishes his speech with quotes from fairy tales.
In addition to the fun characters, The Shack also boasts a fast paced and suspenseful plot with many twists and turns. Through his skillful writing, the author does a great job connecting characters and events, making the story feel complete at the conclusion. The Shack contains the perfect mix of humor, action, and foreshadowing to keep the reader on the edge of their seat.
All praise aside, the foundation on which the story unfolds is nothing short of fantastic. The premise that an infidelity rumor, drunkenly swapped between two old friends years ago, would lead to multiple murders and other criminal events, was inconceivable. Further, the fact that Frank and Sean, a retired teacher and commercial fisherman, would actively put themselves in these treacherous situations alongside professional criminals, all while experiencing few repercussions, was far-fetched to say the least.
I give The Shack 3 out of 4 stars. I enjoyed reading this book; it made me laugh and it kept me on the edge of my seat. That being said, the overall premise really is unbelievable and requires the reader’s suspension of disbelief in order to succeed. For that reason, I couldn’t give this book 4 stars. However, Van Schie has created a fun, easy read that lovers of general suspense thrillers and humorous crime dramas will greatly enjoy.
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