Pandemic hasn't slowed down my interest in contagion reads, and I couldn't wait to dive into Red Hands. Creepy cover, killer blurb--what could possibly go wrong?
When a man drives into a crowd at Fourth of July parade in the small town of Jericho Falls, Maeve can hardly believe her eyes. But then he gets out of the car, and the people he touches die horrible, immediate deaths. In an act of bravery, Maeve throws herself in the path of destruction and becomes infected. As unidentified government forces storm the scene and quarantine the town, Walker, an off-the-books agent with a harried past with sketchy situations, is tasked with finding Maeve on the treacherous mountain before anyone else does. I loved this book. It reminded me of Cold Storage, but I found the infection to be much more enjoyable in the way it unfolds. Full disclosure, I didn't realize it was part of a series when I requested the title, but I'm so glad I did because now I can't wait to read the previous books. Walker is a stellar character, with a wonderful mixture of sarcasm, wit, and talent. He's tough, but caring, a straight-shooter with a morally-sound compass, and he's not afraid to do the difficult, dangerous jobs. I also really enjoyed Maeve's character and the course of the infection. I'm a sucker for contagion reads, and Golden did such a great job breathing life into a crowded, stereotypical genre. The virus is creepy and bloody and delightfully horrific. And it's cinematic. I could definitely see this making its way to Netflix. Golden creates crisp visuals with haunting backstory and a cast of likable and unsavory characters. On the literary side, I appreciated the allusions to Poe (Mask of the Red Death is one of my all-time favorite short stories) and the complexities he finds in his characters. Yes, this is a story about a virus, but it's also a story of a small town uniting for a common cause, of love and overcoming personal demons to help the ones closest to you, and (of course) a classic battle of good vs evil. Overall, Red Hands is your must-read contagion book of 2020. Witty, fun, and utterly engrossing, Red Hands is an un-put-downable thriller that will leave you wanting more. Big thanks to St. Martin's and NetGalley for providing an eARC in exchange for honest review consideration.