By Daniel Palmer
Reviewed by Tracy Allerton
Murder on the Beach Mystery Bookstore
Helpless, Daniel Palmer's second novel (after last year's best-seller Delirious), once again explores the ways that modern technology can be used to destroy the lives of innocent men. It's a page-turner of a thriller that builds to an exciting climax and fitting denouement.
In this story, Tom Hawkins, 43, is a former Navy SEAL who now works happily as the coach of the girls' soccer team in his hometown high school. Not so happy is his personal life: He is bitterly divorced from his high-school sweetheart, Kelly, and distressingly estranged from his teenage daughter, Jill -- a star player on the team.
When Kelly is killed after fleeing from an intruder in her house, Tom is suddenly thrust into the role of full-time dad. He and Jill take tentative steps toward reconciliation, until Tom is branded as a sexual predator by a sly cyber-bullying campaign. An anonymous blog accuses him of sleeping with a schoolgirl teammate of Jill's, followed by the discovery by police of under-aged porn images on his work computer. These events put him in the sights of FBI special agent Rainy Miles, who investigates cyber crimes against children. Despite Tom's protestations of innocence - and her growing attraction to him -- Rainy is determined to bring him to justice.
Things for Tom become increasingly desperate as he fights to clear his name and discover the truth behind Kelly's death and these personal attacks. It seems that his problems are tied to a dark secret from his final days in the Navy, and he must utilize all of his knowledge and military training if he and Jill are to survive. Kensington, 25.00
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