When second-year college student Darby Thorne receives a text message from her sister informing her that her estranged mother has pancreatic cancer and needs emergency surgery, she drops everything and races home, unaware of the horror that awaits her.
Driving a beat-up Honda Civic, Darby attempts to drive through the mountains of Utah in an effort to beat a massive winter storm bearing down on her, only to find out the hard way that her old car doesn’t have the juice to outrun the blizzard. With the snow accumulating at an alarming rate and visibility reduced to zero, Darby is forced to pull over at a remote rest stop and wait out the storm. Upon arriving at the rest stop, Darby meets four others who were caught in the snow too, though she interacts with them sparingly at first–until she makes a horrifying discovery.
While trudging through the deep snow in search of a cell signal, which she never does find, Darby finds a young girl hogtied in the back of a van and imprisoned in a dog kennel. The young girl turns out to be a nine-year-old named Jay, and Darby wants desperately to help her, but she’s unsure how, exactly, to do that. Stuck at the rest stop until morning, Darby can’t just free the girl and take off. She also doesn’t know which stranger inside drives the van, or who–if any–of the other three people can be trusted.
With no cell service and no way to escape, Darby must find a way to help the girl before it’s too late, leading to a thrilling ending that caps off a quickly-paced plot that’ll leave more than a few readers with little to no fingernails.
Overall, No Exit is a strong thriller by Adams (Our Last Night, 2018), but while the story moves fast enough to read in one sitting, there are a few minor flaws worth pointing out. For one thing, Jay, who is said to be nine years old, acts mature beyond her years, and not necessarily in an endearing, street-smart kind of way. That’s easy to overlook, though, with the bigger issue being that one of the story’s first twists is super predictable. Even casual readers will see it coming a mile away. That said, there’s far more to like than dislike, and Adams certainly earns points for originality and his ability to hook a reader early and hold their attention until the very end.
Author: Taylor Adams
Pages: 352 (Hardcover)
Publisher: William Morrow
Release Date: January 15, 2019
Book Spy Rating: 7.0/10
Praised as “one of today’s finest book reviewers” by New York Times bestselling author Gayle Lynds, Ryan Steck (“The Godfather of the thriller genre” — Ben Coes) has “quickly established himself as the authority on mysteries and thrillers” (Author A.J. Tata). Steck also works full-time as a freelance editor and pens a monthly thriller column for CrimeReads. For more information, be sure to follow him on Twitter and Facebook. He currently lives in Southwest Michigan with his wife and their six children.