Catherine Parra Dix
Central Ave. Press, Jan 2009, $14.95
The four high school students ditch school as expected by graduating seniors. Javen Schroeder, Antonia Pacheco, Joey Diaz and Sonny Goretti drive to the nearby Gila wilderness in New Mexico on Senior Ditch Day. On the drive, Javen tosses beer at a hitchhiker before they reach their destination.
Soon afterwards as the guys are by the water, Antonia is by herself when a boy arrives to sit with her. Adolph introduces himself, but his touching her frightens Antonia who leaves to join her friends. Later she and Joey see Adolph raping a battered Dolores. When they intercede Adolph shoots Joey in the chest. Sonny and Javen arrive to beat up and contain Adolph. As they call the cops and rush to take Joey to the hospital, Dolores dies and Adolph escapes. With the police on a manhunt, Joey dies while Javen delays telling Antonia how he feels about her. Adolph remains free stalking Antonia as she is number ten and no one escapes his countdown.
This is a fascinating high school thriller that is character driven as Antonia and Sonny, and to a lesser degree Javen, are forced to grow up abruptly with the horrors that Adolph does to their friends and the threat to them by his remaining free. Rotating perspective mostly between Antonia and Javen, but also less frequently Joey, Sonny and Adolph, this is a fast-paced tale from the moment the psychopath arrives on the scene. With a hint of the paranormal and the isolation of the Gila wilderness section of New Mexico (though cell phones somewhat keep you in touch), fans will appreciate this dark tale as Antonia seeks the Rosetta Stones of life to explain why people do bad things to good people.