by Piyali C.
It was almost 1 am when I let out a long breath. I did not even realize I was holding my breath and at the edge of my seat till I read the last page of No Exit by Taylor Adams. This is the kind of thriller I like to read – one that allows me ‘no exit’ until I finish the last page. A thriller that is crisp, fast paced and yes, thrilling. In one word – unputdownable!
Darby Thorne, a sophomore at CU-Boulder, gets a message from her sister Devon that their mother has been diagnosed with pancreatic cancer and is, most likely, at the last stage of her life. Darby, who was determined not to venture ‘any further off campus than Ralphie’s Thriftway’ (p.4), finds herself racing down the highway in the middle of a fierce blizzard in the Colorado Rockies to reach her dying mother in Utah. Darby’s old Honda Civic does not have snow chains on the tires and the last sign that Darby read before heavy snow obliterated her vision was ‘CHAINS MANDATORY’. Darby is forced to pull in to a desolate rest stop to wait out the raging snowstorm. She discovers, much to her dismay, there is no cell reception at that rest stop. There are, however, a coffee machine, a vending machine and….. four complete strangers taking refuge, just like her.
The charge in Darby’s phone is at 17 percent and rapidly depleting. She is desperate to talk to her sister to know more about her mother’s condition so Darby goes out in the snow to search for signal. As she tries to hold her phone up near the cars parked in the parking lot of the rest stop, she sees a little hand – the hand of a child in the back window of one of the parked cars. Shocked at this discovery, Darby moves closer to the car and tries to look inside. The inside is dark and she can detect no movement or sound. She convinces herself that the hand she she saw was nothing more than a trick of light and gets ready to go inside. But before she goes, she wants to put her suspicion to rest so she directs the LED light from her phone inside the back of the car. A child’s face stares back at her. The little girl is confined in a dog kennel in the back of a car in a raging snow storm.
Darby has no way to call for help and no idea how to rescue this little girl. It is clear that one of the strangers inside the rest stop is a kidnapper who may come out any moment and discover that Darby has uncovered his or her secret. Thus begins a chilling and suspenseful tale of young Darby’s effort to unmask and outsmart a psychopath in an increasingly dangerous and alienating situation as the snow piles up and threatens to bury them in the rest stop at the edge of civilization.
Darby must keep the little girl alive and stay alive herself to save the child. As the odds pile against her, her determination and will to save the kidnapped child increase exponentially. But is her determination enough to defeat the kidnapper who has an answer for all the challenges that Darby throws their way?
This book is not for the faint of heart. If you enjoy a chilling, suspenseful, edgy thriller that will keep you reading late at night, this is the book for you! No Exit by Taylor Adams is available in print and Large Print formats.
Piyali is an instructor and research specialist at the Miller Branch of HCLS, where she co-facilitates both Global Reads and Strictly Historical Fiction and keeps the hope alive that someday she will reach the bottom of her to-read list.