Change is hard. Even when an author tells you that they’re changing, when they write several books in a row in their new direction, it’s hard to accept that they aren’t who they used to be. You want them to be the girl you fell in love with, sometimes to the point that you can’t see the beautiful woman they’ve become.
If you look at the cover of the hardcover version of Death Echo it reads “A Novel of Suspense.” There are no couples on the cover. There is no embrace. Death Echo really needs
you me to stop thinking about the 80’s and listen. Death Echo is not a romance novel. It’s Romantic Suspense all the way. Death Echo doesn’t pretend to be anything other than what it is. The relationship you I made up with it in your my head is not it’s problem.
Judged on it’s merits, and not my expectations, Death Echo excels. Despite setting up a very short time frame (a week), an almost excessive number of players (you need a cluster for a – well, you get the idea), a high level of information dumping (all about luxury yachts and the operation of them) Lowell delivers a tale with real suspense. There might not be any doubt that St. Kilda’s team will prevail, but there is plenty of doubt about how. Death Echo reads like a Bond movie and requires the same suspension of disbelief as governments creak into action and resources appear seemingly without restrictions. All that being said, the abilities and motivations of Emma and Mac easily pass the plausibility test.
Where I might fault Death Echo is in character development. Emma and Max meet each other, like each other, and get on with the adventure. There’s not going to be any soul searching going on here. They’ve got a week and they’ve got a lot to do so there’s no time for angst. On the other hand, this isn’t a romance and there are only so many pages. (Do I ask Jason Bourne to stop for a long walk on the beach with his love interest? No, I do not.) Also, the humanizing of St. Kilda series staple Joe Faroe via a small child with a teething cookie goes on far too long (Joe is a family man. Got it. One day our hero could be just like him! Got it. Joe is gruff but he loves kids! OK! Let’s move on!) while hints at the history of St. Kilda’s wheelchair bound leader are scattered lightly about without any resolution.
Overall, I really enjoyed Death Echo. I found myself annoyed when I had to set it down to attend to my actual life. I’d love to see a film version of this book. There’s just something very Big Screen about it. It’s sort of like Speed on a Yacht with Bourne and Bond in the lead while…. I should stop. It reads much better than it explains. Death Echo would like you to know that things will be blown up, people will be in peril, and plots will be twisted without going dark. Well worth the time.