ARE YOU AFRAID OF THE DARK?/Sidney Sheldon

All around the globe, people are being reported dead or missing.

In Berlin, a woman vanishes from the city streets. In Paris, a man plunges from the Eiffel Tower. In Denver, a small plane crashes into the mountains. In Manhattan, a body washes ashore along the East River. At first these seem to be random incidents, but the police soon discover that all four of the victims are connected to Kingsley International Group (KIG), the largest think tank in the world.

Kelly Harris and Diane Stevens—young widows of two of the victims—encounter each other in New York, where they have been asked to meet with Tanner Kingsley, the head of KIG. He assures them that he is using all available resources to find out who is behind the mysterious deaths of their husbands. But he may be too late. Someone is intent on murdering both women, and they suffer a harrowing series of near escapes. Who is trying to kill them and why?

Forced together for protection, suspicious of each other and everyone around them, and trying to find answers for themselves, the two widows embark on a terrifying game of cat and mouse against the unknown forces out to destroy them.

Taut with suspense and vivid characterization, full of shocking twists, and with an unnervingly realistic premise that could alter all of our lives, the long-awaited Are You Afraid of the Dark? is Sidney Sheldon at the top of his game.

It seems that I’m in a Sidney Sheldon marathon this January. This is my second Sheldon novel for the month; I had Morning, Noon & Night last week. What I appreciate about Sidney Sheldon is that his books are always page-turners, the kind that makes you not want to drop the book until you get to the last page. This is the reason why I was able to finish the each of the books above for only one day.

But like what I said in my review of Morning, Noon & Night, I find Are You Afraid of the Dark? too predictable for my taste. I may not be much of a fan of Sidney Sheldon but I have read a number of his works enough for me to acquire a sense of familiarity as to what his stories are like. And this is what bothers me the most because Sheldon no longer surprise me at all. For most parts of the book, I was busy making bets with myself as “who did it” and find out that I had been always right with my guesses. Still, when it comes to suspense, Sheldon for me is one master storyteller. His writing style is simple yet vivid, effortless and fluid. His story plots are always absorbing and intricate and his characters are very complex and intriguing.

Are You Afraid of the Dark? takes the reader into a tour of New York, Denver, Paris, and Berlin and the hide-and-seek action makes the virtual tour even more appealing. However, I can’t help comparing it to most of the works of Dean Koontz, to which I confess I am an avid fan. Most of time, while reading the book, I always had to remind myself that I am reading Sidney Sheldon and not Dean Koontz. There is an apparent closeness to most of Dean Koontz’s plots, particularly the concept of a “think tank” with conspiracy, and the cat-and-mouse chases that usually goes with it.

I have some problems, though, with the way Sheldon peppered the book with quite a number of flashbacks. It somehow added to my confusion especially that there are a lot of names of the characters that I have to remember.

Nonetheless, this is a story pregnant with much suspense and action, and the revelation towards the ending is a strong probability worthy of discussion.

***SPOILER ALERT***

Everybody talks about the weather, but no one does anything about it.” This is the main premise of the story which I find to be much relevant today especially of the growing interest and advocacy to curb global warming and climate change. After I finished the book, I couldn’t stop thinking about the possibility that the climate changes we have been experiencing these days, plus the recent tragedies all over the world involving the environment (tidal wave in Thailand, flooding in Australia, hurricane Katrina in the US, etc), may have been brought by a company like that in the book (Kingsley International Group) which has the facility to control the weather and that there might be in real life a greedy and ambitious man (Tanner Kingsley) who can cause hurricanes and incessant rains in other countries in exchange for power and wealth.

All in all, Are You Afraid of the Dark? is a fascinating read and is recommended to fans of suspense and heart-stopping action stories.

3 stars.

3/50 Goodreads 2011 Reading Challenge.

Book cover image and blurb from Goodreads.

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