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Sharon Dukett
The Shutdown List

People are disappearing. Anita may be next. But first, they have to find her.

Anita Forester witnesses her husband, Julian, being dragged away by police during a protest. A stranger warns her to flee. Still reeling from the loss of her adult son only two years earlier, Anita embarks on a perilous journey to find her husband, unaware of the crucial secret he has kept from her.

While piecing together the trail to her missing husband, Anita intercepts a hard drive containing priceless data sought by a fossil fuel magnate with secrets of his own—secrets he would kill to protect.

Set against a backdrop of climate activism, The Shutdown List is filled with twists and turns, corruption and betrayal. Anita must fight to stay alive and find Julian before he disappears forever.

Plot/Idea: 9 out of 10
Originality: 8 out of 10
Prose: 8 out of 10
Character/Execution: 8 out of 10
Overall: 8.25 out of 10


Plot/Idea: The Shutdown List integrates elements of a traditional thriller with a timely commentary on climate change, leading to a smart and riveting narrative.

Prose: Dukett writes fluidly, maintaining tension while providing additional levels of interest concerning activism and the unfolding threats of climate destruction.

Originality: Though The Shutdown List has familiar beats, the examination of current political issues, corruption, climate change, and their impact on the primary characters, is sparklingly fresh.

Character/Execution: Distinct characters and some solid, unexpected twists abound in Dukett's The Shutdown List. Protagonist Anita serves as an emotional anchor for the story, and it's through her struggles and quest that the wider plot unfolds. 

Date Submitted: April 29, 2024

This gripping environmental thriller, Dukett’s fiction debut, deftly intertwines personal tragedy with the high-stakes world of contemporary climate activism, the stakes both intimate and global. The intrigue starts immediately, with Anita Forester witnessing her husband taken away by the police during a protest at the U.S. Capitol—and then told by a stranger that “He left you five thousand dollars in his laptop bag in your front closet.” The couple has been reeling for two years following the death of their adult son in a wildfire, and now Anita finds herself on a dangerous quest to discover what has happened to Julian, who goes missing after his purported release, and to uncover the truth about what he and some black-hoodied activists are up to. Questions of trust power her search as she chases down leads and seeks refuge in Vermont.

A hard drive containing valuable data regarding Julian’s work, including secrets about fossil fuels, adds a layer of technological intrigue, making Anita’s dangerous journey not only a physical one—she faces deadly attacks in crisp, taut scenes—but also a battle against time and powerful enemies. Dukett’s background in information technology shines throughout these sections, providing a sense of realism and authenticity, while the narrative is driven by Anita’s courage, her profound sense of loss, and her dedication to saving Julian, even as she struggles to face what her marriage had become in the aftermath of grief. One delectable complication: the appearance of François, a deeply passionate man from her and Julian’s past.

The Shutdown List is an edge-of-your-seat thriller that combines heart-pounding action and suspense with poignant emotional moments. Dukett’s deep understanding of the environmental issues at the core of the plot gives the story heft without diminishing its page-turning pleasures. Fans of suspense stories who are concerned about climate issues will find much to admire in Anita’s relentless quest to save her husband and expose the truth.

Takeaway: Exciting thriller intertwining personal tragedy with climate activism.

Comparable Titles: Lisa Brideau’s Adrift, Joel Burcat’s A Drink to Every Beast.

Production grades
Cover: B+
Design and typography: A
Illustrations: N/A
Editing: A-
Marketing copy: B