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Reviewed by Saifunnissa Hassam for Readers' Favorite
Steven F. Freeman's Thirty Seconds to Live is a mystery thriller with a chilling plot about people who die very quickly, under what appear to be normal circumstances. The story begins in New Zealand with the deaths of fifteen people aboard a sabotaged boat that crashes into shoreline boulders. The investigation turns formidable as the victims are identified. Who was the intended victim and who is the saboteur? Alton and Mallory Blackwell are a husband-and-wife team who are NSA special operatives whose expertise and experience are needed in the investigation. Alton has exceptional cryptography and encryption skills; Mallory is an expert in forensic accounting. The investigation turns even more ominous when the lead New Zealand investigator is found dead, and other deaths follow. Alton and Mallory find growing evidence that there is a crafty and devious killer at work.
Steven F. Freeman's chilling and suspense-filled novel, Thirty Seconds to Live, turned into an engrossing read for me from start to finish. I liked Freeman's approach to the story and the strong characters. The boat crash at the beginning sets the pace and tension in the story. People are killed abruptly, suddenly, in less than a minute. Alton and Mallory work well with each other and as part of a larger team. More than once, they face life-threatening situations but they are courageous and determined to find the killer. I liked the way Freeman handled situations when some leads proved inconclusive. Alton and Mallory share their ideas and expertise to search for connections and the unusual in the many, seemingly unrelated details. I also liked Freeman's gradual revelation of the unknown, elusive, ingenious, and very intelligent killer. All in all, a gripping and riveting read to the end!