Bodyguard Holly Glasscock's martial arts skills can't help her untangle the dark secrets of the Smallwood family or the interwoven lives of historic Beacon Hill. Forthright Holly sees her dreams of a cop career fade as clever Liv eludes her.
Yet Liv and Holly must join forces to outwit Stealth, the genius whose identity split when his twin died. Torn between his own spider-like plan and his dead brother's growing control over the body they share, Stealth must give Brandon what he wants―and what Brandon wants is Liv Smallwood.
More than a tightly plotted thriller of unrelenting suspense, STEALTH MOVES spotlights female heroes in the real world, doing battle with frighteningly human villains. The mysteries unfold until the final, tantalizing page.
Ribbon Reviews for this book:
(These are similar to our Bookworm reviews, but they are
not submitted by our in-house reviewers. Each Ribbon Review corresponds to the matching color of our Bookworm reviews.)
“Stealth Moves” by Sanna Hines is a well written novel. I picked up this story as it was one of the selections offered by an online book club I am a member of. It’s a bit outside of the genre I would normally read but the cover and the book blurb intrigued me nonetheless.
I am a great fan of sophisticated Mystery/Suspense tales with some of my especial favorites being Dean Koontz and Allister McLean. The blurb hinted at a fast paced tale with some unexpected twists. With all this in mind I began with very high hopes. Unfortunately, for me a least, this was a somewhat unrealized expectation.
In my humble opinion this work would best fit into the YA Thriller/Amateur Sleuth genre with the MC and her surrounds being basically high school sophomore age. All of the other characters are either ‘peer’ under 30-somethings or more authoritative parental types. As is typical in this genre the plot is replete with teenage antics and angst, as well as being a fairly violence and gore free presentation. Much of the plot concerns the doings and surrounds of the wealthy Boston Back Bay high society crowd and Ms. Hines provides a very complete rendering of this rarified environment.
The author does a very good job setting scenes, and rich descriptions filled with interesting dialog run throughout this tale. The amount of description and exposition, especially in the beginning stages of the novel can be a bit distracting, but once this tale gets going it is both engaging and compelling. All that said, my review.
Our story opens as we meet Liv, Olivia Smallwood, and we are immediately enmeshed in both her exclusive Boston Back Bay private school environment as well as the mystery surrounding the kidnapping/disappearance of one of her schoolmates, Kyle, who is we learn the second Sidley School student to have disappeared under mysterious circumstances in the past weeks. The tension of the kidnapping and how it roils the nigh imperturbable atmosphere of this old-money secluded enclave is an instant hook. The reader is very nicely drawn into the unfolding plot as we wonder…who could be preying upon these pampered scions of Boston’s most prestigious society families?
Among those upset residents is Catherine Smallwood, Liv’s maternal grandmother, and it is in response to her solicitation for a bodyguard that we are introduced to Holly Glasscock, our co-heroine, who is desperately in need of a job and is on her way into town to interview for a new position as ‘private security’ on Beacon Hill. On the subway ride she has a chance encounter with a ‘groper’ – a creepy man who she confronts after he takes advantage of the packed train conditions to cop an illicit feel. Coincidentally this creepy pervert turns out to be Stealth, as he calls himself, and groping young women is not the only vice Stealth enjoys. No spoilers, but this chance encounter places Holly in direct contact with a denizen of the dark underside of this high-society enclave. Our story picks up pace from there and really clips along breathlessly as the complete tale unfolds, reaches its climax and resolution in only fourteen days’ time!
If all this seems like a lot, it is…and though the story does do this diverse and plentiful set of characters justice there are just so many coincidental plot connections that they begin to strain credulity and in some cases require the reader to exercise willing suspension of disbelief. Plot issues aside the story does pick up pace and becomes a very engaging if quick and relatively easy read. The mystery is not, in the end, too mysterious and in due course the author winds the multiple story lines up and brings this tale to a very satisfactory and surprising conclusion.
Overall I gave this story a rating of 4 stars, though in truth it should be a 3.5 rounded up to four. There are several plot issues, most critically the overuse of coincidence to connect plot events together. Chance encounters are what drive this story forward, and they are often too pat and improbable to be easily accepted by even a credulous YA audience. For my personal taste there were many points in the story where I found myself forced to overlook these unartful connects so as to preserve the overall story progression. On the upside the writing style is strong and clean and there were no grammatical or syntactical errors. One other structural difficulty was the choice of a highly compressed timeline. This tale unfolds and concludes over the span of fourteen days. This requires the plot to move at a breathless, near frantic pace, and this also strains credulity and drains the readers reservoir of belief in the tale as told.
In summary: The downs – somewhat improbable plot, coincidental plotline linkages and artificially compressed two week timeline. Representations of the main characters are a bit formulaic, each one is a stereotype/archetype. Character voices are practically interchangeable and at times with the compressed plot and action it was difficult to know who was speaking a specific set of dialog.
The ups – This story had lots of action, was well written and clean with good characterizations. Good descriptive and scene setting, a few nice plot twists and a surprise ending that will delight many YA audiences. Light Romance is a sub-plot but it never goes beyond a G rating on the heat scale.
All that said, fans of somewhat mysterious/thriller/YA novels will not be disappointed. Overall this story was well written and I do wish the author good luck in her future endeavors.
Submitted by Michael Lynes
The chapters each depict different parts of the story, focusing on different characters.
The writing style was awesome, it kept me hooked and made me want to keep reading. Though I'd have liked it much better if the suspense about Stealth's identity could've been uncovered in the end rather than in the beginning itself.
Other than that one fact, I enjoyed reading the book very much!
I'd give it a blue bookworm! And a lot of love! :)
Although romance is usually my go-to genre, I definitely enjoy getting lost in a great suspense novel on occasion, especially psychological thrillers. This one delivered for me!
The characters were all well developed; any one of them could take center stage in a spin-off sequel. I love it when that happens. My favorite character was Holly, the wannabe cop hired to protect Liv Smallwood, a fifteen-year-old rich girl at a local prep school. Though she started out somewhat shy and unsure of herself, she developed into this resourceful, spunky little spitfire who would stand up to anyone.
The problem is, Liv doesn't want a bodyguard, and she rebels against Holly's protective measures at every turn, even when she becomes the kidnapper's ultimate target.
The villain, Stealth, was magnificently portrayed. I thoroughly enjoyed the "conversations" between him and his alter ego Brandon to move the story along. Brilliant!
Most impressive to me was how the author wove so many seemingly small details into the final climax of the story. It was one of those "Yeah, that makes sense" type of constructions and I found it very satisfying.
The pace was not edge-of-the-seat all the way through, but it was steady. I would like to have seen a bit more dialogue than narrative at certain points, which would have drawn me into the story and helped me connect with the characters more. But for a YA novel, I'd say this was spot on! I can absolutely picture this being a movie on Lifetime TV.
I highly recommend this book to anyone who enjoys a light psychological suspense with many twists and turns.
Beginning with Liv’s school mate Kyle Blake’s disappearance, the reader is instantly drawn into the conflicted life of the teenager. Living with her grandmother in the wealthy Beacon Hill section of Boston, Liv is teamed with a popular schoolmate Ariel Kelly when the Sidley school headmaster decides to insist students travel in pairs to avoid further kidnappings. This sets the stage for Liv’s involvement in the search for and rescue of the missing students.
There are a lot of characters in this book, most of them well developed. Others seem like walk on players whose minor roles fill in the blanks before fading into the background. Most of the dialogue rings authentic; however I was a little uncomfortable with the way the teens spoke. As someone who has a significant interaction with teenagers I found this to be the weak point of the book. Much of the teen slang is somewhat dated making it less believable. That being said, a reader who isn’t familiar with the changes in the way teens speak to one another shouldn’t be bothered by it.
Boston, and specifically Beacon Hill, makes a great location for the story. Rich kids who are often from international families, private schools, and old houses with unique architectures are well described making it easy for the reader to visualize settings.
The tension builds at a steady pace and when the facts are revealed everything fits neatly into place. That’s not an easy feat with a plot as complex as this book has. Hines has a unique ability to pull all the threads together leaving the reader satisfied. Nothing is left hanging with an annoying question mark. She deserves high praise for that.
Written in simple and easy to understand language with no sexual references and only mild violence this could qualify as a young adult book. It is also an enjoyable and easy read for adults. There are a few typos and misspellings but they in no way detract from the book. Other than my personal discomfort with the “teen speak”, I find this to be a great book and a fun read and I am pleased to award it a Gold Bookworm.