‘No Exit’ by Taylor Adams ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

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A brilliant, edgy thriller about four strangers, a blizzard, a kidnapped child, and a determined young woman desperate to unmask and outwit a vicious psychopath.

A kidnapped little girl locked in a stranger’s van. No help for miles. What would you do?

On her way to Utah to see her dying mother, college student Darby Thorne gets caught in a fierce blizzard in the mountains of Colorado. With the roads impassable, she’s forced to wait out the storm at a remote highway rest stop. Inside, are some vending machines, a coffee maker, and four complete strangers.

Desperate to find a signal to call home, Darby goes back out into the storm… and makes a horrifying discovery. In the back of the van parked next to her car, a little girl is locked in an animal crate.

Who is the child? Why has she been taken? And how can Darby save her?

There is no cell reception, no telephone, and no way out. One of her fellow travelers is a kidnapper. But which one?

Trapped in an increasingly dangerous situation, with a child’s life and her own on the line, Darby must find a way to break the girl out of the van and escape.

But who can she trust?

With exquisitely controlled pacing, Taylor Adams diabolically ratchets up the tension with every page. Full or terrifying twists and turns, No Exit will have you on the edge of your seat and leave you breathless.

This fast-paced, heart-stopping thriller had me completely absorbed. There had been a buzz on bookstagram about it so I was full of anticipation when I started reading, hoping that it lived up to the hype. I’ve now become part of that hype; this is a book you don’t want to miss.

“Tonight, every decision would leave footprints.”

Student Darby Thorne is on her way home to Utah from college in Colorado two days before Christmas. She hadn’t planned on making the trip but a message from her older sister telling her that their mother has late stage pancreatic cancer and will undergo surgery on Christmas Eve means that she’s on her way home. Unfortunately also on it’s way is what Darby calls ‘Snowmageddon’, a huge snow storm that derails her plans and forces her taking shelter at a rest stop with four strangers for company and no cell service. Desperate to speak to her mother before the surgery Darcy braves the cold to try and find a signal, but instead makes an unexpected and frightening discovery: a seven year old girl trapped in an animal cage in the back of the van parked next to her car. Who is this girl? Which of the four strangers in the rest stop took her? How can Darby set her free without fatal consequences for herself and the child?

Assuring the girl she will come back and help, Darby goes back inside to try and deduce who is responsible for the crime. Is it Ed and his cousin Sandi who say they are on their way home for a family Christmas, Ashley the self proclaimed magic man who won’t stop talking, or ‘rodent face’, the strange looking man that gives her the creeps that she later discovers is called Lars? Even when she thinks she’s figured out who owns the van she still needs to figure out how to help the girl. But with a battery that’s fading fast, her charger at home, no signal, no idea who she can trust and no chance of help from authorities before the morning, Darby desperately tries to decide how to secretly save the girl without alerting the kidnapper and putting everyone else’s life in danger.

“No panic, no fight, no flight, just that shivery little moment when life goes rancid.”

Darby is a well meaning character who can’t imagine just sitting back doing nothing until the roads clear and then hoping the police catch up to the van later. Despite the risk she has to help, a decision that changes the fate of everyone at the rest stop that night. Not knowing who to trust complicates matters and she makes many mistakes that night, but ultimately her concern is saving the little girl trapped in that filthy cage. The cast of characters were a varied group. Lars was a dubious individual that you should keep an eye on at all times, Ashley had a cocky confidence, and Ed and Sandi were the unassuming duo you’d not pay attention to under normal circumstances. But is there more to this group than what first appears to be true? Are some of them hiding behind an elaborate facade?

“..she’d almost clawed her way out of this fiery, blood-drenched nightmare.”

No Exit starts with a sinister discovery at an isolated rest stop and the book simmers with a rising tension from the outset. I was on tenterhooks throughout as I rooted for Darby to save the girl and get them both to safety. The author has a devilish talent for the macabre and writes in a way that makes each page more tense than the one before as the twist and turns leave you reeling. Right up until the final sentence you aren’t sure what fate holds for these characters, making this a must-read book that you won’t forget.

Out now. Available on Kindle Unlimited.

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