Created by Bethany Campbell
Pseudonym of Sally McCluskey
Other pseudonyms include Lisa Harris
Private detective CARRIE BLUE is an 40-something ex-cop and former high school teacher who gets roped in by Hayden Ivanovich of the Burnside Detective Agency of Fayetteville, Arkansas to act as bait on a “virtual reality community.” Turns out there’s a charming online predator who may be responsible for the disappearance of several young women he’s wooed in the romantic suspense/cautionary tale, Don’t Talk to Strangers (1996).
Pretty ho-hum, right?
Check that publication date! 1996!!!
The internet was still in the dial-up era then (Carrie has a home computer, but no modem), and here was this rookie author pretty much nailing down what’s now become common knowledge (and an arguably overused thriller trope): the internet can be a scary and dangerous place. Hell, catfishing and cyber-stalking weren’t even in the vocabulary back then.
Several decades later, parts of the book may be unintentional funny, thanks to the outdated terminology (“Netsex,” anyone? How about “DOS”?), and parts of it are still just crazy (a terrorist plot and people so stupidly gullible you wonder that they still know how to breathe…Oh, wait, maybe I spoke too soon), but the author displays some muscular writing chops, and the overall mood is still unsettling and chilling.
Even Publishers Weekly, back in 1996, admitted that, despite its flaws, “Campbell offers powerful writing, well-drawn main characters and haunting images of an alternate reality that seems custom-made for predators, sexual manipulators and liars.”
Oh, if they only knew…
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Bethany Campbell is the pen-name of Sally McCluskey, an American romance writer, who also writes as Lisa Harris. She’s received three Romance Writers of America RITA Awards, three Romantic Times Reviewer Awards, a Maggie Award, and the Daphne du Maurier Award of Excellence.
- Don’t Talk to Strangers (1996) | Buy this book | Kindle it!
THE DICK OF THE DAY
- May 11, 2023
The Bottom Line: In this blast from the past, a 40-something ex-cop discovers that on the internet, some people may be lying. Dial-up thrills from a bygone era… 1996. Shocking, ain’t it?
Report respectfully submitted by Kevin Burton Smith.