Reviewed by Kevin Lucia
Stolen Lives by Brian Reaves
"Brian Reaves has crafted a cyber-suspense tale worthy of mention in the same breath as Grisham, Clancy, and Koontz."
Robert Whitney has everything a man could want – he owns a prospering software company, comes home every night to a loving, understanding wife, and is the doting father of a beautiful daughter. His life is thrice-blessed, and he’s never more aware of this than the fateful night he leaves work early with plans to go to the park and spend a fulfilling evening with his family, the only thing in life that truly matters to him.
Derrick Morrison’s life, however, is a pale shadow of Robert’s. A truck driver on the last leg of one job too many, he’s strung out, nerves on edge, and facing the dim prospect of losing his wife and only child – also the only things truly important to him. Though a caring father who loves his son fiercely, Derrick has spent most of his marriage fighting his own demons, losing more battles than winning. As he wearily drives those last few miles home, he’s haunted by the realization his marriage may be over.
A screech of tires and rending of metal crosses the paths of Derek and Robert with world-changing destruction. After the maelstrom quiets, Robert is a man transformed – burning with the bitter fires of hate and vengeance over the tragic deaths of his wife and daughter, he utters to Derrick Morrison what may very well be the death knell of everything good and fine that was once Robert Whitney: God himself can’t protect you from me.
When corrupt officials pass the incident off as an accident, Robert commits himself to the destruction of those who’ve taken away the only people he’s ever cared about. As the computer specialist brings his considerable talents and desire for revenge to bear, Derrick Morrison grapples with an all-consuming guilt threatening to engulf him, both body and soul, and a desperation to save himself and his family from an obsessed madman.
Will Robert enact his revenge, and will Derrick get what he deserves – or will grace prove true in the end?
In his first novel, author Brian Reaves has crafted a cyber-suspense tale worthy of mention in the same breath as Grisham, Clancy, and Koontz. Fans of Tom Clancy’s Net Force will enjoy this tale, and Reaves uses his extensive experience in computer programming as cunningly as his protagonist Robert Whitney uses his to exact his twisted brand of punishment. Reaves is a true story-teller, though – not just a computer person who up and decided to write about it one day. Expect more suspenseful, high adrenaline tales from this writer.
In truth, I spent most of the novel deciding whether or not I truly liked Whitney – whose cold calculation I had a hard time accepting. However, the spiritual “dog bone” Reaves is tossing out for us to “munch on” is clear – how many fast-paced action movies with either Tom Cruise or Harrison Ford do we willingly soak up, where the wronged protagonist takes judgment (which belongs to God alone) into their own hands, wrecking violence, mayhem, and heartache, while we cheer them on all the way, not ever thinking once about the horrible consequences?
On a final note, I hope Reaves revisits Ian Richardson, the private investigator hired by Morrison to keep tabs on Whitney once the trucker realizes he’s been targeted for revenge. There are unplumbed depths there, and as Reaves leaves him ambiguous spiritually, ripe for compelling character development.
Lucia Kevin Lucia writes for The Press & Sun
Bulletin and The
Journal. His short fiction has appeared in Coach’s
Midnight Diner, The Relief Journal, All Hallows, Darkened
Horizons Vol. 3 & 4,
NexGen Pulp Magazine Issues 1 & 4, From the Shadows, Morpheus
Bohemian-Alien, Shroud Publishing’s horror anthology, Abominations,
Tyndale House’s inspirational anthology Life Savors. He’s
writing a novella for Shroud Publishing’s upcoming novella series, The
Hiram Grange Chronicles. He resides in Castle Creek, New York, with his
wife Abby, daughter Madison and son Zackary. He teaches high school English at
Catholic Central High School
in Binghamton, New York; and is finishing his Masters of Arts in Creative Writing
at Binghamton University. Visit him at his website and