Review: Suspenseful Brad Parks thriller has a crazy premise

Review: Suspenseful Brad Parks thriller has a crazy premise
In the opening of “Unthinkable,” Brad Parks’s latest thriller, lawyer turned house-husband Nate Lovejoy awakens in an ornate bedroom hours after being drugged and kidnapped.

He is then informed that he is the guest of Vanslow DeGrange, leader of a secret society known as the Praesidium. It seems that DeGrange is able to catch occasional glimpses of the future and has dedicated his life to using that power to prevent major disasters.

The latest threat DeGrange has detected is embodied in the person of an ambitious yet idealistic attorney who is suing a coal-fired plant responsible for large numbers of lung cancer cases. If she succeeds, power companies around the world will turn to a new anti-pollution technology that will inadvertently trigger an environmental catastrophe and kill a billion people.

The only way this can be averted, DeGrange has divined, is if Nate, and only Nate, shoots her to death. The lawyer in question is Jenny Welker — Nate’s wife.

Initially, Nate suspects this is an elaborate plot by the power company and demands that Lorton Rogers, the man who kidnapped him, provide proof of DeGrange’s powers. But when he gets it — in the form of several accurate predictions including the precise time and date of a tornado — Nate is convinced.

So what will he do? Will he let a billion people die, or will he shoot the mother of his two children?

Parks has taken a risk with this novel. It works only if readers can suspend their disbelief enough to swallow its central premise. Rather than present DeGrange’s power as paranormal, the author offers a pseudo-scientific rational for it that may not satisfy some readers. Those who can accept it are in for a treat.

The story is inventive, well written, fast-paced, and filled with twists. And chapters alternating between Nate’s and Jenny’s points of view add depth and tension.


Bruce DeSilva, winner of the Mystery Writers of America’s Edgar Award, is the author of the Mulligan crime novels including “The Dread Line.”
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