Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Review: The Worst Thing

The Worst Thing by Aaron Elkins

Publication Date: May 2011
Publisher: Penguin Group (USA)
Genre: Mystery/Suspense
Pages: Hardcover, 304pp
ISBN-13: 9780425240991

(Received for review from Berkley Prime Crime)

Purchase: Barnes & Noble, Book Depository, IndieBound

Aaron Elkins on the WEB: website, facebook,

Book Trailer: There is a six-part interview with Aaron Elkins available from The Poisoned Pen on YouTube, it focuses on his earlier works if you are interested.

Synopsis (Book Jacket):

Aaron Elkins has been hailed as 'a master' (The Dallas Morning News) for his Edgar Award-winning Gideon Oliver Mysteries. Now, in an original new novel, he illustrates how quickly everything can go wrong when you ask: What's the worst that could happen?

For Bryan Bennett, designing hostage negotiation programs is the perfect job - as long as he keeps a safe, theoretical distance. What he can't do is deal directly with kidnappers or their victims, as a result of his own abduction and imprisonment as a small boy. Thirty-some years later, intense nightmares still plague his sleep, and a fear of enclosed spaces prevents him attempting to travel.

So when Bryan's boss asks him to fly to Reykjavik, Iceland, to teach his corporate-level kidnapping and extortion seminar, he automatically says no. But the CEO of Globalseas Fisheries, Inc. has specifically requested Bryan - or no one else. Bryan finally relents...

For decades he's treaded gingerly, around the edges of his deepest terrors. Now, on this trip, Bryan's taken hostage again and must face his fears full-on. Will he realize that in this battle of will and nerve, he is his own greatest enemy? Or has this fight already been lost, years and years ago?


Award-winning author Aaron Elkins has taken some time away from the Gideon Oliver series that has made him famous to bring readers a stand alone novel that will have them asking the question: What's the worst that could happen? Using his own experiences as a backdrop for this book, Elkins will have readers on the edge of their seats and biting their nails before this one comes to a conclusion. Heart-stopping action, and emotional turmoil make this one a must read!

Bryan Bennett was kidnapped and imprisoned when he was five years old. That traumatic experience has shaped his life and future. He now works behind the scenes at a company that specializes in hostage negotiation training programs. He is as close as he can get to his deepest fears without facing them. Thirty years later he still has nightmares, panic attacks and fear of confined places, which makes it difficult for him to do his job and travel to the destinations it requires. When Globalseas Fisheries wants Bryan to lead a seminar for them he wants to refuse, but can't. Now he must face his fears head on. What's the worst that could happen? He could be kidnapped again...

Aaron Elkins draws on his own experience with debilitating panic attacks which he suffered from for ten years to give authenticity to Bryan's plight in this novel. He has created a character that has a flaw that as an author he understands. I liked the way that he gave Bryan a job that kept him on the outskirts of the action and close but not too close to his fears. I thought Elkins did a remarkable job of describing what happened to Bryan both physically and mentally when he became was in the throws of a panic attack. I suffer from panic attacks myself and I really sympathized with the character. I though Elkins dealt with the issue in a very informative and realistic manner.

The suspenseful aspects of the book were also very well written. There are tons of television shows today about crimes and forensic evidence and those sorts of things and considering how the world has become today I felt the topic of the book was very current and relevant. Hostages are taken all over the world for various reasons and I am sure there are companies like Bryan's in our world who do the same things. Teach people what to do in that situation. Though readers may not feel it is something they have to worry about on a constant basis, it is something that they know happens especially with all of the terrorist activity in today's world.

I thought Elkins did a great job of allowing the suspense to really build up as the story went on. It got more and more intense as the book worked it's way toward conclusion. It did not feel forced or too contrived. It came across as a natural progression in the story. Readers who are interested in more hard core mysteries and with lots of intrigue and suspense will really love this one. There is something about it that holds the interest of the reader and doesn't let it go 'til the end.

I recommend this one to mainstream mystery and suspense fans. It has quite a bit more edge than a cozy, so keep that in mind when you are considering it. It's a great thriller with a very complex main character that works through some very difficult circumstances in his life. I really enjoyed the book and felt that the author did a fantastic job of making the reader feel sympathetic to the main character and the situation he found himself in... How many times have you said, "What's the worst that could happen?"

The Worst Thing in available NOW from your favorite bookseller.

I'm giving this one 4 out of 5 apples from my book bag!

AARON ELKINS, in the time-honored fashion of writers, pursued careers ranging from boxer to anthropology professor before settling on that of full-time author. He has delighted millions of readers with his captivating Gideon Oliver mysteries, which have been published in six languages. Mr. Elkins lives on Washington's Olympic Peninsula with his mystery-writer wife and frequent co-author, Charlotte.

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