★★★★ In Rachel’s Wish, by James E. Loyd and David Matheson, grieving parents Rachel and Yonny Jonas are trying to deal with the facts of their son’s death, first thought to be a drug overdose, but finally revealed to have been caused by something much more sinister. Such an unexpected and untimely death changes the community around the Jonas family, too, bringing old secrets to light and testing long-held lies like never before. While Yonny and Rachel seek justice for their son’s death in different ways, Rachel in particular must contend with severe obstacles—breast cancer being one of them. The family scrambles to protect themselves from outside threats, but ultimately, Rachel’s Wish is a story about facing down the inescapable results of one’s actions, and finding strength in the most unlikely of places.
Rachel’s Wish maintains the tense atmosphere and nail-biting conflict that the authors established in Starter. The novel reads like a hard-boiled detective thriller that has somehow time-traveled to 1990’s Texas, injected with a heaping helping of that old Southern justice. There are certainly many narrative threads going on here, but this book has the advantage of embellishing characters and conflict that have already been introduced to the reader in the preceding novel. To that end, readers will not have any trouble keeping pace with the quick changes of scenery and fast-talking dialogue, and will likely even enjoy the opportunity to get a deeper look at the psyches of these familiar characters.