Cover image for The breathtaker
The breathtaker
Blanchard, Alice.
Personal Author:
Publication Information:
New York : Warner Books, [2003]

Physical Description:
391 pages ; 24 cm
Program Information:
Accelerated Reader AR UG 5.1 14.0 76503.
Geographic Term:
Format :


Call Number
Material Type
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X Adult Fiction Open Shelf
X Adult Fiction Open Shelf
X Adult Fiction Open Shelf

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Award-winning author Alice Blanchard delivers the must-read literary thriller of the year-a twister of a tale about a detective trying to outwit a killer-and Mother Nature-in Tornado Alley. In the small town of Promise, Oklahoma, Chief of Police Charlie Grover has trouble on his hands. Located in the heart of TornadoAlley, Promise has just been hit by a major twister, leaving behind 40 million dollars worth of damage- and one grisly murder scene. Though the deaths of the Pepper family appear to be the result of flying debris, Charlie has a hunch they are victims of foul play. Autopsies quickly confirm his worst suspicions, and reveal that the killer has left behind a particularly twisted calling card. Charlie seeks help from Dr.Willa Bellman, an expert on killer storms. Together, they must track the path of a cunning killer who knows how to outwit science and technology-before the next storm hits.

Reviews 3

Booklist Review

Promise, Oklahoma, may not be much, but it is ground zero for storm chasers, an eccentric mix of meteorologists, amateur scientists, and plain-old crazies who stalk tornadoes like kids stalk ice-cream trucks. Police chief Charlie Grover is assessing the damage from a recent storm when he discovers the Pepper family. Husband, wife, and teenage daughter all killed--presumably storm victims, but Grover suspects a serial killer among the storm chasers. In the background is widower Grover's struggle with single parenthood and his new romance with a scientist fascinated by violent storms. The first two-thirds of the novel are excellent as Grover sifts through forensic evidence and desperately tries to profile a killer who hides among the chaos of tornados or may even have his killing rage released by the storms. The extended conclusion screams big-budget movie (rights have already been sold to a major studio) and runs counter to the moody thoughtfulness of the rest of the book. On balance, it's a well-crafted thriller, but it could have been better. --Wes Lukowsky Copyright 2003 Booklist

Publisher's Weekly Review

Blanchard's gripping second thriller follows a smalltown police chief's pursuit of a serial killer who strikes only during tornadoes, but the "Debris Killer" is only one of the highlights of this fast-moving shocker, which also features the keen characterizations and fine atmospherics of the author's first thriller, Darkness Peering. Charlie Grover, Blanchard's sympathetic hero, lives in Promise, Okla., deep in "Tornado Alley." Recently widowed, Charlie is the physically and emotionally scarred survivor of a childhood fire that killed his mother and sister, and the father of a sweet 16-year-old daughter enchanted by a teenage storm-chaser ("the kind of troubled youth who gave troubled youths a bad name"). After Promise is hit by a severe tornado, Charlie discovers three bodies in a house with only minor damage. Their deaths are particularly gruesome-mother, father and daughter have all been impaled by flying debris; the father is "stuck like a pin cushion"-and Charlie quickly realizes that this is not the work of a storm. The bodies display defensive wounds and, worse, the killer's "signature": each has had a tooth extracted and replaced with another tooth. Charlie seeks the help of spunky scientist Willa Bellman, who introduces him to the art of storm-chasing ("heroin for the heartland") and slowly reawakens his heart. As tornado season comes on, more victims are discovered, and Charlie begins to suspect someone very close to him, before the murderer leads him on a final terrifying chase that will have readers gasping. Blanchard makes a bold move by linking her villain to tornadoes-each such powerful forces of destruction and chaos-and while it's a little far-fetched, it pays off in this dark depiction of environmental and human turmoil. (Nov. 11) Forecast: Twister may have been a dud, but Hollywood is betting on this Twister-Thomas Harris hybrid (screen rights have been bought by Warner Bros.-based John Wells Productions) and foreign rights have been sold in Germany, Holland, Italy and the U.K. Gale force sales are predicted. (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved

Library Journal Review

A nasty twister hits Promise, OK, but Chief of Police Charlie Grover isn't fooled: several apparent victims were actually murdered. Film rights have been sold. (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.