Reviews of Standalone Novels

Cut and Run

“Pearson excels at writing novels that grip the imagination.”

People

“Lots of nail-biting suspense and edge-of-the-seat action. This is one of Pearson’s best…”

Over My Dead Body

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Six years ago Roland Larson and Hope Stevens fell in love. Not too remarkable, except that Roland was the witness protection agent assigned to keep Hope, a witness against the Romero crime family, safe while her new identity was being forged, and this was a major no-no in the program. After forty-one days of hop-scotching across the country, barely a step ahead of a vicious, throat-slashing assassin, Hope begins to fear that the government can’t keep her safe, and she asks Roland to “cut and run” with her. In the time it takes him to think it over, she disappears.

Larson has been transferred to St. Louis and reassigned, with colleagues Hampton and Stubblefield, to the Marshals Service’s Fugitive Apprehension Task Force. He has never stopped looking for Hope, searching for her at Shakespeare festivals and performances around the country. On the brink of giving up, he hears her distinctive laugh one night in a crowded theater, but before he can track her down he’s called into duty by two deputy marshals who give him the message that “we’ve lost Uncle Leo.”

Dr. Leopold Markowitz wrote the code for Laena, the list of several thousand protected witnesses and their families, and is one of the few who could decrypt it. In the wrong hands this information would put all those lives in jeopardy, and it soon seems evident that the professor is in the very wrong hands of the Romero family. Larson must find him before the list is decrypted and the names sold off to the highest bidder. One name on the list is especially important to the Romeros and to Roland, that of Hope Stevens. Larson sets off to find the missing scientist and the woman he loves. Close behind him, and all too often ahead of him, Paolo, the Romeros’ hired killer, slashes his way through those closest to Hope. Along the way he kidnaps her five-year-old daughter, who proves to be as tough and resourceful as her mother. Hope and Larson are reunited, and in a race against time they set out across the country to rescue little Penny and stop the bad guys from carrying out their nefarious plan. Lots of nail-biting suspense and edge-of-the-seat action. This is one of Pearson’s best.

“Wow! I’m a big fan of Ridley’s Lou Boldt series, but Cut and Run is a cut above. What a fantastic stand-alone page-turner with riveting suspense from beginning to end! My pulse ratcheted up by page six and stayed that way. Plenty of danger and conflict throughout—those things we hate in real life but love on the page. A highly recommended thriller… Don’t miss Cut and Run—but clear your schedule for the day ’cause you won’t put it down.”

Dorothy L Mystery Digest

“This is a fast-moving roller coaster ride of a novel. Every player has his own game, and his own side bets on the outcome. The bad guys are fearsome, and the good guys are doing everything they can to stop them. A word of warning: If you start this late at night, make sure you don’t have to be anywhere in the morning. This one is impossible to put down.”

The Romance Reader’s Connection

Parallel Lies

“Parallel Lies is exactly the kind of book that made me a Ridley Pearson fan in the past. This novel has all of the usual Pearson investigative tricks and techniques that add up to him being considered one of the best techno-thriller writers today.”

Mostly Fiction

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Two men with fates altered by lies – one seeks revenge, the other redemption – are on a parallel course to seek the truth.

Umberto Alvarez lost everything 3 years earlier when his wife and two children were killed by a passing train after a crossing guard failed to stop her car from going over the tracks. Northern Union Railroad, however, disclaims this version of the accident saying instead that the car stalled on the tracks, at no fault of their own. Alvarez believes the one witness (whose call to 911 has vanished from the records) and wants Northern Union to fess up. Whereas Alvarez was once a husband, father and a science teacher from Illinois, he is now a terrorist intent on single-handedly bringing down Northern Union Railroad.

Ex-cop Peter Tyler lost his job, his girlfriend and is close to losing his home all caused by a brief moment in which he beat a man to near death. Tyler lost it when he saw this drunken man swinging a baby by her feet, driving her head against the wall. Acting in self-defense and sheer rage over the baby on the floor, Tyler beat the man uncontrollably. However, in court, the prosecutor made his case by playing up that the man Tyler beat was black and made it look as if Tyler enjoyed beating him, thus explaining the reason he didn’t stop. It was easier for the media to jump to conclusions and believe the worse in a person than to seek out the facts. Although acquitted, Tyler’s eleven years as a homicide detective came to an abrupt end.

Now Tyler’s had an unexpected break and is hired to help the National Transportation Safety Board investigate a bloody empty box car in St. Louis, Missouri. He believes he really needs to do well on this temporary assignment for the money and for the chance at permanent employment. Northern Union has sent their own investigator, Nell Priest, and she seems intent on leaving him behind in the investigation. Although it would seem they would want to work together, its the purpose of their respective paperwork that puts them at odds. After all, Priest is employed by and is a shareholder of Northern Union. Peter Tyler’s skills as a homicide detective are telling him that this case is more complicated than what he was hired to do. Perhaps Alvarez is not the bad guy. And Nell Priest is beginning to see what he means.

As indicated by the title, Pearson delves into the subject of trains, those wondrous machines that transport freight across the country, “getting stuff from one place to another.” He plays with the nostalgic image of trains “the sound in your ears, and that rumble up your legs,” giving us a sense of the modern day “rider” community (politically correct term for hobo as we learn in this novel), and the effort to introduce a high speed train system into this country and its awesome technology. However, he also makes a subtle comparison between the older and newer trains, when he writes “In the near silence, Alvarez became aware that there was no rhythm to this bullet train, no cadence. They had robbed train travel of its soul.” On a less abstruse but parallel note, the plot Pearson weaves takes a good hard look at the soullessness of today’s business in light of shareholder greed.

Parallel Lies is exactly the kind of book that made me a Ridley Pearson fan in the past. It’s fast paced and technically thorough, offering a plot line so credible that it makes you wonder if perhaps it couldn’t have happened this way. (It’s a good thing this book wasn’t published until now or else Amtrak might have had to sue Pearson for loss of passengers on the Acela Express maiden voyage.) This novel has all of the usual Ridley Pearson investigative tricks and techniques that add up to him being considered one of the best techno-thriller writers today.

“The story telling is incisive with never a wasted word. The action is indeed breathtaking yet the author never resorts to gloating over gore. There is romance, but never any tediously titillating sex.”

Reviewing The Evidence

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Ridley Pearson is an amazing man. Before he ever began writing he was a musician and, in fact, still plays bass guitar in a band. Not only did he play music, he also wrote it. On deciding he needed to look for a second career he thought about writing. Perhaps the fact that his family included writers may have inspired him but certainly he is a meticulous author who never skimps on his research nor on the painstaking construction of his novels.

Pearson is fascinated by forensic detection and his fiction has had an impact on the real world, given that a prosecuting attorney who was reading Pearson’s Undercurrents utilised methods expounded in that book to bring to justice a homicidal husband. Another of his novels, Chain of Evidence played some part in causing an uproar at a genetics conference while the state of a fictional corpse, victim of arson, in Beyond RecognitionÝwas later mirrored in a non-fictional death. Some others of the author’s novels are The Angel Maker, No Witness, Hidden Charges , Probable Cause, Hard Fall and Blood of the Albatross. Ridley Pearson also writes under the nom-de-plume of Wendell McCall.

Pearson has been quoted as saying that entertainment is a large part of his life. He plays music and writes, both in order to provide entertainment. It can truthfully be said that he succeeds. While his books are constructed very carefully and his forensic research is impeccable, he never falls into the trap of becoming boring or didactic.

Parallel Lies initially posits two characters, one, Umberto Alvarez, appearing to be evil, while the other Peter Tyler, is the good character set to catch the bad. As events unfold the readers’ perceptions change as they are made to empathise with Alvarez who, it becomes apparent, is only seeking justice for the death of his wife and children. The death was caused by the negligence of a railway company. Tyler, an ex-cop, lost his job with the police because he was pilloried for beating a black man, although the man was, at the time of the beating, inflicting grievous harm on his baby daughter. Just as proof of Tyler’s lack of racial bias, the author has him fall in love with one of the railway company’s security people, a black woman. As the tale progresses, Alvarez and Tyler appear to adopt certain aspects of each other’s lives: a very interesting story-telling tactic.

Pearson gradually builds complex portraits of his two main protagonists, showing how each is, in his own way, deeply wronged yet essentially benevolent. The amount of information the reader can absorb about the construction and running of trains as well as the minutiae of solid forensic detective work is astonishing. Heaven help the nerves of an unwary railroad passenger who picks up this book to while away his journey! The story telling is incisive with never a wasted word. The action is indeed breathtaking yet the author never resorts to gloating over gore. There is romance, but never any tediously titillating sex.

“In true thriller style, everything in this novel represents speed, not the least of which is the rapidity with which the reader will turn the pages. Perfect summer reading.”

Deadly Pleasures

“I have never consecutively read two novels by the same author…until this week when I just happened to try a few pages of your stand-alone, Parallel Lies. WOW…to me this was one of the most riveting thrillers I have read this year. What a fantastic conclusion! Amazingly to me, you have the unique ability to write as totally different authors with distinctively different styles. I would never have suspected the three afore mentioned groups of novels were written by the same author…. Just couldn’t help but share my appreciation for your exceptionally entertaining, well-crafted novels.”

Bob Gill

The Diary of Ellen Rimbauer

“The diary format gives readers a voyeuristic thrill. The entries are quite detailed, full of fear and sexual energy.”

Book Haven

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Rose Red is a haunted house with a disturbing past. The Seattle mansion was constructed at the turn of the 20th century. Oil magnate John Rimbauer built the house for his bride, Ellen.

From the early stages of construction, the house is rocked by tragedy and scandal. Murders, suicides and mysterious disappearances suggest Rose Red has a mind of its own, choosing who shall perish behind its walls.

Stephen King created a mini-series based on the Rimbauer domicile. Rose Red documents the work of Dr. Joyce Reardon in her attempt to unlock the secrets of the house before it’s demolished. The troubled history of Rose Red and its inhabitants are the subjects of Dr. Reardon’s life-long work. Her mentor vanished from the house thirty years prior and its been her obsession ever since.

In 1998, Dr. Reardon purchased Ellen Rimbauer’s personal journal. The writings were authenticated and compiled for a publication titled The Diary of Ellen Rimbauer: My Life at Rose Red.

Excerpts featured in the book are dated 1907-1928. They begin with Ellen’s pending engagement to John Rimbauer.

Readers are given a glimpse of the Seattle elite in the early 1900’s. We see Ellen Rimbauer develop from a young bride to a tormented matriarch.

The diary entries gradually become darker and more daunting. Guests to Rose Red vanish and Ellen is afraid of her own home. Societal pressures keep her married to John Rimbauer. A devastating tragedy prevents her from permanently leaving the horrifying domain.

Aside from the house’s frightening faults, Mrs. Rimbauer candidly discusses the cruel and sexually-twisted intentions of her once-admired husband. The diary includes recollections of explicit erotic acts and sexual ambiguity.

The Diary of Ellen Rimbauer increases in disturbance until its abrupt end. There is an afterword by great-grandson Stephen Rimbauer as well as Joyce Reardon’s editor’s note. It is here that Ellen Rimbauer’s final years are explained.

News Flash: Everything described up to this point is fiction. Only the mini-series creator is real, leaving questions regarding the authorship of the book (which were answered in mid-2002.)

The Diary of Ellen Rimbauer is merely a physical prop of King’s Rose Red mini-series. However, the book stands well on its own to a point.

The diary format gives readers a voyeuristic thrill. The entries are quite detailed, full of fear and sexual energy. Rose Red becomes more and more frightening up to the final page. After reading the book, you’ll want to see the mini-series, meaning the tie-in succeeds in its intentions.

The Diary of Ellen Rimbauer would make an excellent horror story if developed further. A little more attention to the characters and the house as a being could have easily scared readers without the television tie-in crutch.

As it is, this fictitious diary, written by a fictitious author living in a fictitious house, edited by a fictitious paranormal expert makes for interesting reading.

Upon completion of The Diary of Ellen Rimbauer, be prepared to view Stephen King’s mini-series. No doubt Rose Red answers the many questions left by this mysterious diary and its namesake.

“Regardless of the fact there is no real “Joyce Reardon, Ph. D” or “Rimbauer family” the book was quite entertaining! (The true identity of the author is Ridley Pearson…his next novel “The Art of Deception” appropriately titled.) The publishers, Hyperion Books, did a great job of promoting the fictional diary as to go so far as creating a false university website: beaumontuniversity.net to encourage the belief of a nonexsistent mansion called Rose Red. As for the diary, it was a fun, entertaining read.”

Teen Books

Chain of Evidence

“Some procedurals stress forensic detail, while others emphasize the multidimensional humanity of the cops. Pearson does both, and the combination continues to be unbeatable.”

Booklist

“This is cutting-edge reading. The final chapters blend heart-stopping, breakneck chase scenes with high-tech computer hacking…. Although it’s possible to read too much into what is, after all, a “popular” work of fiction, Chain of Evidence reveals movingly and convincingly the grim effects of past trauma on the lives of human beings. This is a book to savor.”

Mostly Murder

“The justice vs. loyalty theme is very strong in this story, as is Mr. Pearson’s trademark use of clever and original investigative detail. The reader is required to pay close attention to minute pieces of forensic evidence, as the suspect and the investigator play a closely-matched game of wits and knowledge. The author uses plot twist after plot twist to keep the suspense level high and the pages turning…”

Mystery Guide

Hard Fall

“Ridley Pearson is back and better than ever. Hard Fall is a gripping thriller, loaded with the forensic detail we have come to expect from the author of Undercurrents and Probable Cause. FBI agent Cam Daggett has been on the trail of international trigger man and environmental terrorist, Anthony Kort, for two years. Kort is responsible for two airplane bombings, one of which killed Daggett’s parents and left his son, Duncan, a paraplegic. Daggett is closing in on Kort, through one of his cohorts, when Daggett’s boss opens a booby-trapped suitcase and blows himself and the link to Kort sky high. Back to the drawing board. Daggett picks up the trail when a Seattle flight instructor is found murdered at a flight simulator, and a plane crashes for no ostensible reason; deduction and forensic sleuthing point to Kort. The chase is on, and Daggett knows that he has limited time to run Kort to ground before the next crash. Pearson, who writes thrillers from his log cabin in Idaho, has constructed a complex and believable narrative, and at the same time created sympathetic and fully developed characters. With this novel, his sixth, he’s hit his writerly stride.”

Seattle Times

Probable Cause

“As with Undercurrents, Pearson’s characters and careful plotting lead suspensefully to a thrilling conclusion. If you like procedurals, Ridley Pearson needs to be placed high on your list of authors. He is outstanding.”

Booklist

“Probable Cause is one of those rare thrillers that works on several levels. All of the characters—particularly James DeWitt—are well drawn. There are several unexpected turns in the plot and the action sequences are splendid.”

Balitmore Morning Sun

“Probable Cause confirms Pearson’s emergence as one of the finest crime novelists in America, a master of intricate procedural detail combined with taut, edge-of-the-seat plotting and acute psychological suspense.”

New Trade Books

“The single most impressive thing about Pearson’s writing is his ability to vividly describe everything. The visual is so strong, you feel as though you are there! He uses this talent to take us on a fantastic voyage into the mind of a psychopathic killer.”

Mystery Guide

The Seizing of Yankee Green Mall

“Pearson expertly juggles a large cast of characters and keeps the action moving in his exciting new thriller. He writes clear prose, epic in scope and strongly cinematic, cross-cutting from event to event in short, pithy chapters…. True and false heroes, vigilantes seeking publicity, lovers seeking consummation and many more characters have a part to play in an ending that will keep readers on the edge of their seats as the bomb is set and the last minutes tick away.”

Publishers Weekly

“The centerpiece of this fast-moving novel is a magna-size shopping center, The Yankee Green Mall, which impinges on the lives of the dozen or so principal characters in the book…. Ridley Pearson is a clever writer who knows how to construct and draw out a plot for maximum suspense.”

West Coast Review of Books

Blood of the Albatross

“Ridley Pearson excels at writing novels that grip the imagination….”

People

Never Look Back

“Never Look Back is a masterly debut: its long, complicated chase has deft variations in pacing and culminates in a breathtaking final shoot-out.”

Booklist

“Pearson makes a promising debut in this adroitly crafted thriller…. [He] uses fast cross-cutting, nonstop action and some nicely quirky characters to keep us turning pages, right up to an unsettling, ambiguous ending.”

Publishers Weekly

“The plot is complicated but compelling, involving the theft by the Soviet Bloc of a deadly bacteria that could be turned into the world’s most frightening weapon and the kidnapping of its creator, an aging scientist saved from the Holocaust…. a good read. One hopes Pearson will publish again and again.”

UPI