Rated of 5
by William Y. (Lynchburg, VA)
Review: 15 Seconds, Andrew Gross
The thriller genre has a long history in popular fiction. The Dime Novels and Penny Dreadfuls of the 19th century thrived on action, cliffhanger situations, and minimal character development, eventually evolving into pulp novels and countless paperbacks. In that respect Andrew Gross’s 15 Seconds fits the criteria for a thriller. His erstwhile hero, a naïve doctor named Henry Steadman, finds himself in over his head as seemingly incriminating evidence accrues, linking him to murder and more. How can he establish his innocence before the police catch and imprison him?
Any self-respecting thriller should also be a page-turner, and the first half of the book will keep readers guessing right alongside Steadman. But author Gross, in an unusual turnaround, reveals the mystery—at least to his reading audience—and what remains devolves into a more conventional tale as Steadman also figures out who’s out to get him, and in a series of cat-and-mouse chases it all finally climaxes in a scene out of early movie serials (think The Perils of Pauline) with a deserted shack, whirling saw blades, and the menacing villain face-to-face with the good doctor.
Unfortunately, Gross has Steadman thinking in exclamatory sentences—“and I didn’t care!” “I’m pretty sure I can prove it!” “the only chance I have!” and so on throughout the novel. Set in Florida and Georgia, the frazzled Steadman races back and forth, racking up hundreds of miles in travel, but at the expense of much plot plausibility and characterization.
15 Seconds stands as an adequate thriller, but with better writers plowing the same ground and equipped with better plots, the discerning fan of the genre will probably find this effort disappointing.