- Hardcover: 416 pages
- Publisher: Kensington (January 31, 2012)
- ISBN-10: 075824665X
- Source: Author
Former Navy Seal Tom Hawkins doesn’t have the best of relationships with his teenage daughter, Jill. Frankly, he has no relationship with her, thanks to his ex-wife. When she dies, apparently an accident while jogging, Tom is forced to attempt to make amends with Jill. Jill has grown up listening to her mother’s lies about Tom and, traumatized by her mother’s death, isn’t in the mood to trust him right now. They attempt to allow life to get back to normal, as normal as it can be at least.
Soon their attempts at normalcy are put on hold; the town’s police sergeant insinuates that Tom is a suspect in his ex-wife’s death. As if things can’t get worse, an anonymous Tumblr posts accuses Tom of having sex with one of the girls on the soccer team he coaches. Jill is also on this team and these accusations essentially put a halt on any attempts of progress in the relationship with her father. Tom willingly gives up his work computer to the police, simply wanting to rid his name of any accusations of guilt. When he’s arrested, not only for the accused relationship with his player but also several other pretty heinous crimes, Tom realizes all of these false accusations, these attempts to imprison him, to ruin his life, are all due to his actions over a decade ago. A secret he’s kept hidden for so many years, the reason his wife left him. Someone is willing to ruin his life to protect this truth he’s buried for all this time.
Without a doubt, Helpless is one of the most terrifying books I have read in some time. In this book, Palmer unveils a world of sexting and cyber crimes that is all too realistic, of how easy it is for an individual to infiltrate your computer system, to ruin your life. It’s all too incredibly chilling. The storyline is truly unique and incredibly realistic, adding to the terror and chills that flooded my body as I read this book. This is yet another book that has fueled quite a lengthy conversation with my pre-teen son about what is appropriate to share online.
Additionally, the identity of the “culprit” truly keeps you guessing up until the last several pages. Several times, I thought I had it all figured out and each time I was completely floored when my guess was disproved. Another key to the success of this book are the father and daughter characters of Tom and Jill. You become invested in their lives, want the to survive and have a healthy parent-child relationship again.
Bottom line, if you are looking for a dynamic thriller with genuine characters, Helpless is the book for you. If you haven’t read Palmer’s previous book, Delirious, I encourage you to do that as well. Highly recommended.