CM . . . . Volume XXIV Number 9 . . . . November 3, 2017
Chipper is much more than a border collie. He is part of The Institute's multi-million dollar experiment in implanting canines with spy technology. But Chipper is a failed experiment: he can't resist his natural instinct to be distracted every time he sees something to chase (he can't resist squirrels). Sensing that The Institute has decided to terminate him, Chipper conceives a hair-raising escape. Unaware that a kill-team is hot on his heels, he begins a cross country trek towards the closest thing to family he's ever known: the son of the only two lab workers who had ever shown him kindness.
Jeff, 12, has been living with his aunt ever since his parents both died in a plane accident one year ago. He is kept busy doing routine work around her lakeside cabin-rental business. But things have recently begun to look up; he's just met Emily whose father owns a similar operation in the area. The two quickly begin to spend every spare moment together, often in Emily's super-cool, super-secret hideout: an abandoned train station in the middle of the nearby woods.
After making a successful escape from The Institute, Chipper begins his search for the boy who he knows has been made an orphan by The Institute. The two literally run into each other when Jeff is on his way to the dump and Chipper's software is being remotely manipulated, causing him to wander onto the highway. Jeff takes Chipper to the train station to nurse him back to health, and it's there that he discovers a computer port in Chipper's collar. Once Emily hooks her laptop to it, she and Jeff discover that Chipper's arrival is not random. He has been looking for Jeff, and now so is The Institute.
The action in Chase begins on the first page and doesn't let up in this new thriller from Linwood Barclay, the first book in the "Chase" series. Young readers' hearts will go out to Chipper who, on page one, is sure that he is facing death at the hands of his captors. His thrilling journey from The Institute and towards Jeff is so breathtaking that it's hard to believe that the two main characters don't even meet up until about one hundred pages in. This is the first thriller Barclay has written for a younger audience which may be why the dialogue sounds occasionally stilted; however, the pacing is steady and the characters all ring true. The double twist at the book's end will leave readers on the edge of their seats, but not to worry; book two is coming in 2018.
Linwood Barclay is the New York Times and #1 international bestselling author of 14 critically acclaimed novels, including Trust Your Eyes, which has been optioned for film, Never Look Away, which has been optioned for television, and No Time for Goodbye. Barclay lives in Oakville, ON, with his wife of more than three decades, Neetha, with whom he has two children.
Chris Laurie is an Outreach Librarian at Winnipeg Public Library.