Book Review of the Week: Walk Away by Sam Hawken
By Sam Hawken
New York: Mulholland, 2017. $26.00
Walk Away opens on New Year’s Eve in Miami. Camaro Espinoza (who made her debut in 2015’s The Night Charter), a former combat medic moonlighting as captain and sole crew member of a deep-sea charter fishing boat, has fallen into a dead sleep, having exhausted herself through intense rounds with a punching bag and her old friend Jack Daniel’s. She awakens to discover a cryptic message from her sister, Annabel, whose taste in men is both dubious and deadly. Although the two have been separated by distance and design, Camaro has always had her sister’s back, and so she sets off across the country, to where Annabel has created a new life for herself and her young daughter in Carmel, California—a peaceful existence now jeopardized by an abusive boyfriend.
Meanwhile, bail bondsman Stanley Yates has tracked career criminal and ex-Marine Lukas Collier to a seedy Denver motel room. Armed with pepper spray and a sense of righteousness, Yates plans to bring in his charge, but he finds that his modest provisions are no match for trigger-happy Lukas’s Colt. Lukas flees the scene—and two U.S. marshals, Keith Way and Piper Hannon, who are hot on his trail—and heads farther west, where he has plans to meet up with his brother, Jacob, to close the deal on a lucrative scheme. But he receives word that Jacob has been fatally shot after having broken into his girlfriend’s house and threatening her with a knife. And Jacob’s alleged killer is none other than Camaro Espinoza.
Lukas vows vengeance. What he doesn’t anticipate is that the enigmatic Camaro has a bloodlust to rival his own. Although Lukas is shielded by his brother’s friends, Camaro also has a few unlikely allies, including the late Stanley Yates’s father, Jeremy, who now demands closure. The ensuing game of cat and mouse is amplified by the overzealous Keith Way, who will stop at nothing to take Lukas down. His former partner died in a showdown with the fugitive, and Way has since ceased working within the parameters of the law and will halt Camaro—or anybody else who compromises his mission—by badge or by bullet.
Sam Hawken—author of the critically acclaimed connected novels The Dead Women of Juárez, Tequila Sunset, and Missing—has achieved a trifecta of triumph with Walk Away, the second offering in a promising thriller series: a complex and compelling protagonist (coupled with richly defined secondary characters), authenticity of voice and vista, and resonant timeliness. Short chapters, spunky dialogue, and shifting perspectives all serve to maintain narrative immediacy in a plot punctuated by multiple, intricately converging story lines. Camaro Espinoza is a name to remember, and readers will find themselves rooting for her despite the many liberties she takes with conventional law and order. Justice is in the eye of the beholder, after all.
—John B. Valeri