NOVEL APPROACH: Fight or flight

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First Posted: 7/14/2013

Most of us have an extreme fear – whether it is spiders or the sound of footsteps all too near. There are even a select few who attempt to avoid fear at all costs, spending their lives wishing, hoping, and praying they never come to face it. Unfortunately, as Koethi Zan demonstrates in her latest novel, “The Never List,” fear becomes a reality. Even in the event we survive, a question remains – would you have the courage to one day relive that fear in order to save another?

At first glance, Sarah and Jennifer might seem like typical best friends. But together, they share a union like sisters connected by The Never List, a set of rules they live by in order to avoid any and all danger that exists for them. Unfortunately, as they soon find out, even the best-laid plans can take a devastating turn for the worst.

“There were four of us down there for the first thirty-two months and eleven days of our captivity. And then, very suddenly and without warning, there were three. Even though the fourth person hadn’t made any noise at all in several months, the room got very quiet when she was gone.”

10 years later, Jennifer is presumed dead. Her body is never found, which continues to plague Sarah. Why were Sarah, Tracy, and Christine saved from Jack Derber’s sadistic hands, but not Jennifer? Like the profile of many well-known psychopaths, Jack is an educated charmer. So much so that as a result of good behavior and lack of proof related to homicide, Jack’s premeditated abductions and heinous violations of the only known three victims goes cold. Within days and without any hard evidence, Jack will be released into the world again.

As a result, Sarah’s conscience leads her to seek out the truth behind Jennifer’s disappearance, which means going against her best judgment and, of course, The Never List. Sarah knows she will need all the help she can get, and so she enlists those special few who can put all the missing pieces together – the remaining victims.

Due to the explicit nature of the work, particularly torture, rape, and further violent behavior, the novel will certainly not be for everyone. However, Zan has tastefully created a twisted and thought-provoking work of suspense that is not cheapened by grotesque and all too vivid detail. Instead, Zan has classically taken “The Never List” to a new level by leaving the most unsettling of details to our own imaginations.

‘The Never List’ by Koethi Zan Rating: W W W W