Jessica Barry's heart-pounding Don't Turn Around begins at midnight, with a young woman, Cait, waiting in a beat-up Jeep outside "a McMansion" in Lubbock, Tex. The engine is idling, ready for a quick getaway. The house remains quiet, though, and Cait is getting nervous. She can wait for only a few more minutes, since she's under strict orders to avoid attracting attention. Almost at the last minute, a stranger comes out of the house, jumps into the Jeep, and the two women are off, on a 322-mile trip to Albuquerque, N.Mex.
Cait tells her passenger, Rebecca, to switch off her phone so they can't be tracked. But someone finds them anyway. Along dark, deserted roads, a truck with menacing headlights and tinted windows keeps showing up to terrorize the women. The driver's identity remains unknown, but Cait and Rebecca each has good reason to believe the stalker is after her. Neither is certain they'll reach their destination--or survive the night.
Barry (Freefall) excels at plunging readers into her novels from the very start. The thriller races along like the Jeep being chased, while Barry takes her time revealing her secrets, which are surprising and sometimes heartbreaking. The cover tag line is "It's never been so dangerous to be a woman," and Barry precisely taps into timely issues that will resonate with readers, especially female ones. The author also shows how people without obvious common ground could be allies, and those who do bad things aren't monsters lurking in the dark but the seemingly nice folks standing right in the light. --Elyse Dinh-McCrillis, blogger at Pop Culture Nerd