Book Review: GETAWAY by Lisa Brackmann

A couple of weeks ago, I went on a little getaway to Morro Bay on the central California coast. I packed too many books as usual, but the one I decided to read was Lisa Brackmann‘s Getaway (Soho Press, May 1), since the title is apropos.

The story begins with Michelle Mason vacationing in Puerto Vallarta, Mexico, after her husband dies suddenly. It’s the last fling she’ll enjoy before having to deal with the fiasco he had made of their financial affairs, something he had kept from her. She’s losing her home and will have to get a job—why not have some fun first?

She hooks up with an American named Daniel and takes him back to her hotel. Two men break into her room in the middle of the night and hurt Daniel badly enough for him to be hospitalized. From there, she becomes entangled with Mexican cops, drug dealers, and a creepy guy named Gary who coerces her to spy on Daniel without telling her who either of them is. She can’t leave the country until she does as Gary wants, but as her vacation quickly devolves into a nightmare, Michelle may not leave Mexico alive.

The novel is compulsively readable, with Brackmann keeping the pace tight and readers in the dark along with Michelle. The author also captures both the beauty of Puerto Vallarta—you can almost feel the sun and sand on your skin—and its sinister underbelly.

Michelle, however, is a frustrating heroine. She’s mostly a passive character, reacting to events more than being proactive about getting herself out of the bad situation. This is understandable to some extent because her hands are figuratively and literally tied at times, but even when she does have a modicum of control, she still makes unwise choices. A party girl she barely knows asks Michelle to meet her at a seedy club late at night and Michelle goes, then gets in trouble when she leaves the joint much later because there are no more taxis running. Yes, she was hoping the girl had some intel for her, but perhaps she could’ve tried to negotiate a meeting time during the day? She also drinks too much when she knows she needs to stay clearheaded because her life might depend on it. Overall, though, Getaway is like a vacation fling—it may not leave a deep impression, but it’s diverting enough while it lasts.

Nerd verdict: Diverting Getaway

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  • Reply
    April 18, 2012 at 9:07 am

    Many of the books I have read lately have the hero/heroine making some really odd and downright silly choices. I keep hoping this is a trend or at least to find an author who justifies their character’s choices with something based in believability. Thankfully, none of the reading selections you have suggested have this problem, which is why I keep reading your site. I will admit to having spent more than one crazy night spent in Mexico, but that was in my early 20s when I was immortal and stupid. Sounds like this heroine is past that age and would probably know better. If I can’t relate to the main character on some level, then I’ll never finish the book. I wonder if this is just my problem?

  • Reply
    April 19, 2012 at 6:21 am

    The cover is certainly curious…but she seems a bit niave. Maybe its just me….or maybe not after reading further along in your review. Glad to hear it kept your interest for a quick vaca read. Thanks for sharing!

  • Reply
    jenn aka the picky girl
    April 19, 2012 at 7:59 am

    Eh. I love this cover, but I don’t think I’ll be reading this. I understand being a bit naive, but in a situation like this, you’d think the character’s actions would make a bit more sense. I’ve read enough “blah” books lately that I’m trying to be a bit more discerning. I’ve never been a DNF’er, but I may become one if things don’t look up. 🙂

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