Fiction - Thriller - Psychological
371 Pages
Reviewed on 12/02/2018
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Author Biography

Adam Smith is a graduate cum laude of the University of Arizona, where he studied journalism and German. Born and raised in New England, he lives on Cape Cod. To support his writing over the years, Adam has become a chef and restaurateur, but also a house painter, a landscaper and a tree feller. Perhaps his highest writing honor was being accepted into Dennis Lehane's novel-writing workshop at Writers In Paradise, arguably the most productive writers' conference in the country. SCABLAND placed as a Finalist in the 2018 Independent Author Network Award for Oustanding Suspense/Thriller of the year.

    Book Review

Reviewed by Viga Boland for Readers' Favorite

Scabland by Adam Smith is a mind-blowing psychological thriller. What an engrossing and frightening read! This story is one where an original victim of gang rape, Melissa Cohen, is as much to be feared as the twisted rapist, “Spider,” who orchestrated Melissa’s sexual abuse some 20 years earlier. Over those 20 years, she’s become someone else. Thanks to military training and police work, she’s now someone with skills no rapist would want to encounter. When one member of that original rape gang locates her, confesses his role in the abuse and reveals the identities of all but the secretive Spider, Melissa is hell-bent on revenge. But her idea of revenge is nothing like what the gang members or the reader will expect and Adam Smith makes sure readers keep reading to the very last page to find out just what she has in mind. When we do find out, real-life victims of rape might cheer with approval. Even if it’s a bit far-fetched, it’s a most fitting, unusual and unexpected punishment. But Melissa’s mission to locate all the members and execute her plan pits her wits directly against those of Spider, whose identity she doesn’t know. Alternately, Spider always knows what, where and when Melissa’s up to something, and he has every reason in the world for making sure she never discovers his identity. Who is managing to keep Spider one step ahead of her? And in the meantime, why are young women turning up emaciated, dead, and hanged, as it were, in a spider’s web? Talk about a writer keeping readers on the edge of their seats!

Honestly, if you’re into psychological thrillers, Scabland is impossible to put down. It’s very well written, making excellent use of dialogue and a tension-filled plot. Characterization leaves little to be desired, even if Spider is almost too evil to be believed. But Melissa and her motivation are believable. There are even some funny episodes thanks to Melissa’s friend and confidante, Jesse, and a professor with an unusual name and an even more unusual sexual problem…all very welcome in a novel that will, most of the time, make you forget to breathe!

Peggy Jo Wipf

Scabland is a novel that will make the reader cringe at the multitude of offenses towards Melissa Cohen, while the author, Adam Smith, captivates his audience until this nightmare ends. It tosses Melissa about for 20 years because she is too unsettled from the terrible acts against her. She knows she can have no rest until Spider is cured of his craving to dominate women and it haunts her knowing he is out there. After one man confesses to her, she finds the clues she needs to track down the man who kidnapped her and scarred her for life. Melissa doesn’t know whom she can trust, and those she trusts are in danger of becoming the next victim.
I found Scabland flawless in writing about a sensitive subject. Adam Smith revealed how revolting this serial rapist is and addressed how many of these cases are handled poorly in court. Often victims don’t want their names dragged through the mud while the guilty are set free anyway, which was the case for the main character. Adam Smith explored the emotional aftermath targeted women often feel as there can be a bond between them and their kidnapper, which is a common physiological response. This book is intense with great characters and unique twists as the plot uncovers more foes. While you may struggle to read about this offensive subject, rape, the author hits it from an angle that seeks justice for those offended. Witty, full of scandal and deceit, I would highly recommend Scabland to those who savor stories of criminal justice and suspense.

Darryl Greer

In Adam Smith’s Scabland, Melissa Cohen’s teenage dream of becoming a psychiatrist was shattered when she was subjected to a horrendous attack by a group of vile individuals led by a psychopath with the self-styled appellation of Spider. Her life would never be the same again. In the intervening years before we catch up with her at age 38, she has been a soldier in the Israeli Defence Force, an Israeli federal agent, a Miami cop and a forensic photographer. Now, she is a highly successful paparazzi photographer. But her success is overshadowed by her past and she finds it impossible to have any kind of meaningful relationship. Melissa has always assumed her attackers did not know her identity but after 20 years she discovers that one does. He is dying from a mysterious virus that threatens to reach plague proportions. As this man has a limited time to live, he confesses to her. He doesn’t tell the other attackers her identity but he does say that she knows who they are — except for Spider. Her arch nemesis begins killing off anyone, including his fellow attackers, who can identify him and Melissa is forced into a desperate race to discover his identity before he finds out hers. Despite skills learnt in the IDF and as a Miami cop, Melissa’s revenge is not what you would think. What she has in mind she considers a cure. And it is a most surprising one at that.

It is not every day you come across a novel that you are convinced is exceptionally well written after reading just the first few lines; a novel that is so gripping, you can’t wait to get to the dénouement to see where this wild ride is going to take you; the characters so well depicted you feel you know them. Excellent prose completes the package. Readers of Scabland will be hooked from the outset. The pace is around Mach 2, the story itself intriguing and unique. To top it off, Adam Smith writes in the first person as a woman, not an easy thing for a man to do, especially given Melissa’s circumstances. And he does so in a credible way. A word of warning though, this story is not for the faint-hearted; some of the scenes are highly visual and you may not want to go there. But if you’re game, get yourself a pair of heat resistant gloves and be careful how you turn the white-hot pages.

Judy R

Loved this book!