Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Title: Helpless
Author: Daniel Palmer
Pages: 406
Genre: Mystery/Thriller
Publisher: Kensington Books
Pub. Date: January 31, 2012

I reviewed Daniel Palmer's first book, Delirious, last year and really enjoyed it. (Quick side note.. I just realized both covers have a man under water!) Anyway, I was enthralled by his first book and was excited to pick up the second, Helpless, which is a stand-alone thriller that also incorporates technology into its story.

In Helpless, soccer coach, Tom Hawkins, who is also the father of one of the players, Jill, is accused of having an affair with one of his high school students. Before he can even clear his name, the accusations start piling on including those about running a child pornography ring. And what's even scarier than the accusations alone is that the evidence, all involving technology, starts to pile up against him too. And who can refute that?

I used to work with sex crimes investigators and the families involved so I am aware, unfortunately, of how prominent these issues are. But I also am aware of the fact that sometimes allegations are fabricated and of the devastating effects they can have on those victims of the false allegations. I think that was part of what drew me to this book -- maybe a horrid fascination with how scary and big the internet and computers are and how these things can be so dangerously manipulated. In Helpless, Hawkins uses his skills from when he was a Navy SEAL to do his own investigation to clear his name, and he races to do it before he's put in jail for good because he knows that based on the evidence he'll be found guilty.

While I didn't like this quite as much as Delirious, I have to say Palmer wrote another great story that kept you guessing. One of the things that makes these books stand out is the technological aspect and how these are incorporated into the plot points. There was also a component that involved "sexting" which is so dangerous but also prominent among teens now. As I read that I imagined how I would address that if I had a child... it's one of those things that you can't just wait for, you have to always be open and let your kids know about the consequences. Because it is a scary thing that can have life-long, ruinous effects. In that sense, even though this is a thriller, this might be something that parents should read so they can be aware!!

My only gripe about this book is there was a sort of secondary mystery/storyline that I didn't care for, and while the two story lines were somewhat woven together, I wonder if it was really necessary to include both.

Regardless, Helpless was a smart and psychologically thrilling. I look forward to Palmer's next book!


Mrs Q Book Addict said...

I don't read many thrillers, but I would like to try explore the genre more. This one sounds really interesting. Great review!

Zibilee said...

I have Palmer's first book here on the shelf, thanks to Sandy, who let me borrow it, and can't wait to get to it. It sounds as if this one is good as well, and the aspect of these kinds of allegations being leveled on someone falsely is just repugnant and horrible. I do want to read this one eventually, and can't wait to see what I think of it. This was a wonderful review today, Jenny. I like how you mixed tour personal experiences with your analysis. Thanks for sharing it!

Sandy Nawrot said...

Ah, this must be the book he spoiled for us all in his talk at UCF! He is an edgy writer with lots of action and twists and turns though, so I wouldn't be against reading this one (even though I know a bit about the end). He IS going to be at UCF again this year.

Jenny said...

LOL Sandy! I was thinking of you when I read this/wrote the review! For me it was much less about who did it, though, then how so you would probably still like it!

Jenners said...

I might have to check this out … but maybe start with the other one.

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