Conk on head leads to amazing twists

Dr. Emory Charbonneau, a pediatrician and marathon runner, finds herself trapped in an isolated cabin with a man hiding from the world in Sandra Brown’s latest dive into romantic suspense.

Although Emory has a tumultuous relationship with her husband, Jeff, they are trying to work things out. She arranges to take a weekend off to head to the mountains to train for a marathon, but Jeff is furious, and they argue before she leaves.

Emory arrives at her destination, spends the night in a hotel, and is on the trail the next morning. She receives a massive blow to the head and wakes up inside a cabin. A man tells Emory that he found her unconscious and brought her to the cabin to administer first aid. When she asks for a phone or transportation back to civilization, he comes up with excuses to keep her inside and “safe.”

Meanwhile, Jeff begins to wonder about his wife, but believes she’s still angry after their fight and is intentionally staying away from home. When the police begin to question him about her whereabouts and learn that he is having an affair, they start to think he’s responsible for her disappearance.

A quick glance might invoke thoughts of a tale mixing Gillian Flynn’s Gone Girl with Stephen King’s Misery, but as Brown unveils the full scope of the story, readers will be shocked and delighted by the direction it takes. Full of surprises and terrific characters, Mean Streak is one of Brown’s best novels.

Jeff Ayers reviewed this book for The Associated Press.