If I Run

9780310332442Genre: Mystery/thriller/suspense

Author: Terri Blackstock

Pages: 319

Recommended for: Christian and non Christian readers who enjoy a clean murder mystery or police investigation.

NOT recommended for: People who like to read the end of the book first or skim readers. Also not for those who are easily affected by blood or trauma.

4 star

About the author:

Terri Blackstock is a New York Times best-seller, with over six million copies sold worldwide. She is the winner of two Carol Awards, a Christian Retailers Choice Award, and a Romantic Times Book Reviews Career Achievement Award, among others. She has had over twenty-five years of success as a 19811novelist.

Terri spent the first twelve years of her life traveling in a U.S. Air Force family. She lived in nine states and attended the first four years of school in The Netherlands. Because she was a perpetual “new kid,” her imagination became her closest friend. That, she believes, was the biggest factor in her becoming a novelist. She sold her first novel at the age of twenty-five, and has had a successful career ever since.

 

Synopsis of If I Run51RBNAZwtUL._SX327_BO1,204,203,200_

WARNING: this review contains spoilers

Casey Cox is the daughter of a police man. She knows how cops’ minds work. So when she flees the scene of a murder, she knows how to cover her tracks and disappear.

At the age of twelve, Casey discovered her father hung from the living room ceiling fan. The case was ruled as a suicide, but Casey knew better. She saw the blood and the signs of struggle. Her father had been murdered, and the police were covering it up.

Years later, it’s happening again. The police are the enemy. Her journalist friend Brent Pace had discovered the truth behind her father’s death but was murdered before he could tell anyone. As the first one to discover the murder, Casey left her DNA all
over the crime scene. She would be the first suspect. Knowing she can’t trust the police, Casey leaves everything behind and flees for her life.

Dylan Roberts is a war veteran suffering from severe PTSD. He had served in the Criminal Investigations Division but was honorably discharged due to his condition. When he returns home, he applies for a job with the Shreveport, Louisiana police department. His PTSD working against him, his only hope for a job appears when his childhood friend’s parents hire him to investigate their son’s murder. Since the murder suspect has fled out of state, the local police force has limited resources. As a private investigator, he would have better chances at finding the murderer. And catching Casey and bringing her home would mean redeeming himself and ensuring a job with the police force.

When Dylan investigates the crime scene, details aren’t adding up. Casey’s DNA is everywhere, but her actions don’t make sense. The murder appeared premeditated and not a reaction to an emotional trigger as suggested by lead officer Keegan. Also, her escape was unplanned. With more and more pieces of the crime not matching up, Dylan begins to study Casey’s personal life by delving into her social media and questioning her friends. He discovers her to be a caring, selfless girl who is loved by everyone—not a person likely to murder her best friend.

While Dylan is occupied researching Casey’s life, Casey is busy changing everything she can about herself. First she chops off all her hair, then darkens her blonde bob to brunette. She also exchanges her contacts for glasses and removes her makeup. Her identity change is complete when she finds a man in El Paso to give her a fake license under the name Grace Newland along with a new social security number.

Several buses later since leaving Louisiana, Casey finds herself headed to Atlanta. Her companion on the bus is Miss Lucy, an older Christian woman who is on her way to move in with her daughter in Shady Grove, Georgia. Casey is shocked to hear Miss Lucy’s confession that she killed her husband years ago in self-defense and also saddened by the news that the old woman’s granddaughter had been kidnapped. How could a woman who had suffered so much still have faith in God? Attracted to this woman’s kindness, Casey decides to move to Shady Grove and gets a job at a cell phone repair shop to replenish her money supply.

Casey quickly settles into a normal life, until she accidentally sees a picture on a customer’s phone of a woman wearing the necklace Miss Lucy’s granddaughter had been wearing before she disappeared. At first she thinks she’s overreacting. But then she investigates the man’s house. The basement’s windows are boarded up, and she hears a baby’s cry even though the man doesn’t have children. Against her sister’s warning, Casey starts to break into the house but is arrested. She tries to tell the police that the missing girl is being held there, but when they search the house, the girl is nowhere to be found.

Knowing she can’t let this girl be lost forever, Casey breaks into the house again a few days later only to find an empty basement. She almost gives up and leaves but waits, when she overhears the man talking about the girl. She watches him go into the basement and go through a wooden door painted to look like the rest of the brick wall, explaining why she and the police hadn’t been able to find the girl.

Meanwhile, Dylan is still trying to locate Casey. With her covering her tracks so well, he struggles to catch up to her. After a failed attempt to apprehend her, he returns to Louisiana to do more digging into her life. He questions Casey’s family but gets nowhere. Deciding he might find more answers by following Brent’s actions leading up to his murder, he questions one of Brent’s friends and coworkers. Dylan discovers he had been researching the death of Casey’s father, implying Brent also didn’t believe the death to have been a suicide.

Dylan’s suspicions are aroused more when he walks up on Keegan watching an interview between Brent and a woman named Sara Meadows, who worked at the police station, talking about Casey’s father. Keegan slams the laptop shut and refuses to allow Dylan to see any of Brent’s items. Hoping to get answers, Dylan arranges a meeting with the woman. But when he arrives at her house that evening, he finds her murdered, shot through the heart. Disturbed by this turn of events, he again visits Casey’s sister to tell her the news. She doesn’t divulge any more about Casey’s whereabouts but does pass on his contact information to her now that she believes he might be on their side.

With Sara Meadows dead and Keegan refusing to divulge information, Dylan believes he’ll never learn more about what Brent was up to. Until he receives a package from Casey with a flash drive. Before Brent had died, he had made a copy of all of his findings and sent them to Casey. Her sister had found the package and mailed it to her in Georgia. Realizing she had to trust someone, Casey mailed the flash drive to Dylan, which contained details of Casey’s father’s death as well as the interview between Brent and Sara Meadows. In the interview, Sara confesses she has learned several of the officers to be dirty. They were taking bribes and extorting money from people. When Casey’s father also learned this, he was killed a few weeks later and his case ruled as a suicide—all evidence of murder quashed. Sara was too afraid for her life to tell anyone the truth until now. She is dying of cancer and feels she has nothing to lose. Dylan figures Keegan must have killed Sara after watching the interview on his laptop and discovering she knew the truth.

Now that Dylan knows he can’t trust Keegan or his men, he must find Casey before they do to keep her alive. When he hears of her police report for breaking into a house, he finds Miss Lucy and questions her about Casey’s whereabouts. Unable to get any answers, he drives around town and sees her car parked on the curb in front of the house she had broken into. Dylan discovers Casey along with the missing girl and her baby in the basement just in time to save them from being beaten by the girl’s abductor. While he assists the abducted girl, he lets Casey drive away where she will once again change her identity and settle in a new town.

My thoughts on the story

This is one of Terri’s better books that I’ve read. Many of hers from the Cape Refuge series sound outdated due to her seeming lack of knowledge on technology. Either that, or she was trying to date the book. But this one seemed more well-thought out and didn’t involve technology as much. I’m giving this book a four out of five stars only because it could have been less predictable. Now that’s just me being harsh. It really was a good book. But I decided to give a higher rating only if I’m blown away by a book’s impressiveness. If I Run was plenty entertaining and provided a good read, but the writing style didn’t impress me to the point of bragging on it, and the story wasn’t anything unique enough to wow me.

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