In April, I posted a review of Adam Blumer's Fatal Illusions on amazon.com. I liked it -- a lot. It scared me silly -- as I said in the review, don't read it right before going to bed -- but I like particularly what the author did with the characters and the plot line.
The characters: Marc Thayer, a pastor who's been counseling an unstable woman; she stalks him and shoots him. Gillian Thayer, Marc's wife, who's grieving the loss of stillborn twins and finds herself growing ever more distant from her husband. Stacey James, who shoots Marc in Chicago and stalks him again in Michigan's Upper Peninsula. Crystal, the Thayers' daughter, who has a beautiful singing voice and becomes the object of the main stalker in the story, an amateur magician. Waydon Owens, the magician, who keeps killing teenaged girls, thinking he's killing the same one over and over again. Chuck Riley, a newly retired police detective who's determined to find the serial killer.
Blumer shapes his characters with a deft hand. They're so real you'll recognize them from your neighborhood or church (okay, not the stalker or the serial killer, but you get the point). Even the minor characters are drawn well -- County Sheriff Dendridge, for example, is immediately recognizable, warts and all.
The Thayers, thinking they're in the Upper Peninsula for rest and a sabbatical, instead find themselves stalked and attacked. And they fight back, with Gillian assuming a particularly heroic role.
The author particularly gets the reader inside the minds of the magician and Stacey James -- no easy trick, because Owens' mind is perverted and distorted while James' mind is increasingly unhinged and struggling for sanity. The reader doesn't feel sympathy for either of them, but Blumer has crafted them with understanding.
As events begin to move faster and faster, the reader speeds along the plot line, hoping that this is going to end well but not quite sure what the author is going to surprise you with next. And Blumer does surprise -- remember that the villain here is a magician with an almost cult-like worship of Harry Houdini. And Houdini got himself out of some impossible places.
I can't call this great fun, but I can call it a great , suspenseful, read.