Monday, October 2, 2023

'Device Free Weekend: A Thriller' proves to be a fine read



You have a lot of catching up to do.

How long has it been since you were all together last? Doesn't matter, the years fall away when you're with your oldest, longest friends. There was a time when you were inseparable and man, it feels good to reconnect, but as in the new novel, "Device Free Weekend" by Sean Doolittle, how well do you still know them?

Had it actually been 20 years since the Stillwater Seven was together?

Stephen Rollins added it up on his Chicago-to-Denver flight. Yep, it had been every bit of two decades since his college chums had all been in the same room. Last time was Will and Perry's wedding day, and yeah, it'd been awhile.

He'd kept up with everyone, sometimes, more or less. Will and Perry filled him in on Emma's life in Minnesota; he'd semi-followed Beau and Lainey (known as Blainey) on YouTube. As for Ryan, well, Stephen watched from afar; his old roommate was too busy running a multinational, multi-multi-million-dollar social media corporation to stay in frequent touch.

So when the fancy invitation arrived with glitter and silver and a number on the back, Stephen waffled; did he want to keep the window shut and skip the weekend at Ryan Cloverhill's private Pacific Northwest island? Then again, how could he pass up an all-expenses-paid three days of boating, whale-watching and reminiscing?

He was really glad to see Emma on the same flight, Denver to Seattle. Once, Stephen was in love with her and so was Ryan, and there were regrets – but reconnecting with her felt right. This would be good.

Not good, though; once they'd arrived, Ryan confiscated everyone's cell phones, tablets and watches, and he acted weird. Also not good: Ryan looked awful, and he singled Stephen out to say that he had cancer, and that the weekend was his last hurrah.

It was so unlike him.

He begged Stephen not to tell the others.

And then he drugged everyone at supper the first night, and Ryan disappeared...

Draw the connections however you want, between social media, the online world, ubiquitous devices, techxperts and all – the fact is that with one finger on a digital pulse and one on a trigger, "Device Free Weekend" is a pretty fine thriller.

While you might sense what's going to happen in the first few pages – and you'd be right – author Sean Doolittle keeps readers guessing on thedetails of this novel – details that readers will be happy to note are believable without going full I.T. on anyone. Reading this book doesn't take you into CPU territory; no, it's current but with the usual, comfortingly familiar elements of a thriller – revenge, bullets, spy devices, high-speed chases – perched on a tightrope between good and greed and killers with morals.

Like many thrillers, "Device Free Weekend" can lag sometimes, but take it as a chance to snag a breath before being plunged back into a story that turns you every which way. If you're up for that, it's a book to catch.


No comments on this item Please log in to comment by clicking here