Gardiner kicks off with an elaborate set-up: a role-playing, true-to-life kidnap
and adventure game for Autumn’s 21st birthday is arranged by her wealthy
father. But the game is overtaken by villains. The group of cossetted, rich
kids are pitched against a gang of highly resourced and organised criminals
who have no compunction about obliterating any obstacles in their way. Things
get more complicated when lovers Jo Beckett (a forensic psychiatrist) and Gabe
Quintana (a military search and rescue man) stumble into the abduction and help
to even up the odds.
Gardiner writes a terrific adventure, rendering nature raw in tooth and claw and the bad guys even worse. There are plenty of shifts and reversals to keep the pages turning even faster and visually effective set pieces involve everything from a car crash and poison snakes, to a swing bridge over a ravine, a booby-trapped mine-shaft and a runaway horse. Jo Beckett is a regular series character, skilled and physically confident, strong and focused, kicking ass with the best of them. The Nightmare Thief also features Evan Delaney, lead character from Gardiner’s other series. With its pacy style, breakneck plot and zestful writing this is a thriller to recommend.