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Saving Calypso
D. Z. Church, author

Adult; Mystery/Thriller; (Publish)

Five years ago, Calypso Swale disappeared with money stolen from her father’s safe--and her patent. A patent no one wants to see work, except the owners of Washburn Exploration, who have staked their future on it. When Calypso’s wrecked car is located, the race is on to find her, destroy her and her patent. And the man in the lead is the very reason she ran. Grieg Washburn
Church’s twisty thriller is driven by greed and power. Teen heiress Calypso Swale was about to join the U.S. equestrian team in the Olympics when a car crash involving drunken Grieg Washburn, heir to the Washburn Exploration (WashEx) empire, killed her parents. At the time, Larch Swale, Calypso’s father, was COO of WashEx. Her father’s last word to her was “Run,” and Calypso obligingly disappeared with a chunk of his money and a precious patent for a new kind of engine. Five years later, Grieg’s father is dead and it looks like someone’s trying to kill Grieg too. WashEx’s board is offering a reward for Calypso’s return, and no one wants her found more than Grieg.

This well-constructed thriller provides plenty of action as well as a glimpse into the cutthroat world of intellectual property and mineral rights profiteering, where patents are a highly lucrative commodity and companies make millions from exploiting deposits of rare substances. WashEx made its money in oil; as Grieg tries to turn it in a new direction, the board pushes for an IPO. Blackmail and murder are also at the forefront, thanks to a bounty of colorful characters whose needs, jealousies, and ambitions drive the solid story.

The protagonists are unusual and compelling. After slipping off the grid, Calypso is forced to abandon her privileged lifestyle and live off the land, raising chickens, making her own bread, and even drying seeds in order to survive. Grieg, a “charming, monied, swaggering, offensive, risk-taking, impulsive, murdering bully” but also a “future-facing genius,” is determined to sober up and prove to everyone that he’s more than capable of stepping into his father’s shoes. Their mutual need to reinvent themselves in order to survive will resonate with readers as the double-crosses and questions pile up. This is a satisfying look at the devastation wrought by selfishness.

Takeaway: This well-constructed thriller driven by old-fashioned vices and modern concerns about resource use is sure to appeal to fans of the genre.

Great for fans of James Patterson’s The 6th Target, David Baldacci’s A Minute to Midnight.

Production grades
Cover: B
Design and typography: B
Illustrations: -
Editing: B
Marketing copy: C

In the tantalizing prologue of this twisty thriller from Church (Head First), the enigmatic Calypso Swale decides to leave her home for the second time in six months after she spots ads describing her as a “missing heiress” in local newspapers and some men watching her on the street. Calypso drives from San Francisco to the Sierra National Forest, where she pushes her car off a mountain road to create the illusion that she died in an accident. Flash forward four years. In Kenya, Grieg Washburn learns that his father, Ray, has been blown up by a bomb in Syria. At the reading of Ray’s will, a lawyer reminds Grieg that he was convicted of vehicular manslaughter five years earlier, but thanks to Ray cutting a deal with the judge, he served only probation instead of prison time. While driving drunk, Grieg collided with another car, killing Calypso’s mother and seriously injuring her father. After Calypso visited her father in the hospital, he warned her to run, triggering her life as a fugitive. Readers will keep turning the pages to see what brings Calypso and Grieg together in the present day. Lisa Unger fans will be pleased. (Self-published)