“If it saddens you to look back, and you’re afraid to look forward, just look beside you, and I’ll be there.”

MYSTERY/THRILLER

Bill Briscoe

Panic Point: Book Two (The Pepperman Mystery Series)

Paperback (also available as an e-book), 978-0-9986-4256-7, 248 pgs., $12.99

March 13, 2019

 

Panic Point hits the ground running when former Navy SEAL Earl Helmsly discovers his bride, Morgan, has disappeared while on their honeymoon in the Smoky Mountain National Park in Tennessee. Earl’s frustration and fear are palpable when after searching for two weeks, the park’s rescue team only offers more questions and not enough clues to convince them she is still in the park.  Morgan seems to have vanished into thin air, and Earl shoulders the blame and plummets into despair after the search is finally called off. The happy couple’s marriage appears to be over before it has even begun.

 

Bill Briscoe meticulously builds the scenes, characters, and overall tension as Earl is thwarted at every turn to find Morgan and as his life quickly fills with anguish and helplessness. When Earl finally gives up all hope, the plot pivots unexpectedly, and the action blasts off once again. This turn of events kicks an already gripping story into overdrive when Earl is contacted by a mysterious stranger with new information.

 

A covert rescue team is formed, and Earl is front and center and ready for action and answers. In a fast-paced crime fiction, a great plot will often falter if the characters are lackluster and unable to pass muster. In Panic Point, both the plot and the characters are impressive, well developed, and completely engaging. A slight injection of humor from one of the supporting characters cools the tension at just the right moments and keeps Earl and the rest of the team grounded in their mission. The plot accelerates with each chapter as the conflict and danger ratchet up and as the mystery of Morgan’s disappearance finally begins to unravel, revealing a despicable scheme that must be stopped.

 

As an added bonus, Panic Point includes some foreshadowing of possible dire events for the unsuspecting newlyweds, providing a bit of dramatic irony for readers to contemplate and then wonder if they would be so oblivious to impending danger. Additionally, the story touches on the delicate subject of blame when someone disappears without a trace. Self-blame and finger pointing will not solve the crime until someone steps up and offers an actual solution to getting the job done.

 

Admirably, the author does not end the story once the rescue team’s mission is complete and everything seems destined for happily ever after. The transition of recovery and healing after a traumatic experience is real but often left out or glossed over; however, in Panic Point, the resultant nightmares and distrust are handled with gentleness and patience, easing the story into a realistic resolution.

 

Bill Briscoe adeptly captures the reader’s attention from the first page and precisely delivers memorable characters and a riveting plot worthy of any action movie. Panic Point is book two in The Pepperman Mystery Series, but each book can stand alone, including the prequel; however, these stories are so thrilling, captivating, and well written, missing out on the entire series should not be an option. Bill Briscoe knows how to keep the reader on the very edge of that seat as the plot thickens and as the characters jump into action, literally. Panic Point is a riptide of a story, drawing you in and refusing to let you go for even one minute.

 

Bill grew up in the oil and gas refinery town of Phillips in the Texas Panhandle. After graduating from college with a master’s degree, he spent most of his career working for a major insurance company as an agency manager and consultant.

As his retirement was on the horizon, he had an idea about a book. That story, "Pepperman’s Promise," became the prequel to The Pepperman Mystery Series, and now "Perplexity" and "Panic Point," the next two books in the series are available.

Bill and his wife of fifty years live in West Texas.