Joshua MacMillan knows how to craft a suspenseful and heartbreaking narrative. The Best Of Intentions exemplifies those skills carried over from short fiction to a larger work without any apparent difficulty on the part of the author.
Corey Loflin is a combat veteran still struggling to adjust to civilian life after years away from the military. He and his wife had hoped he was past the night terrors and emotional struggles associated with PTSD and survivor’s guilt, but when the nightmares return, focused on his wife and young son rather than his experience during the final deployment, Corey seems ill-suited to handle things on his own.
When seemingly sinister and threatening messages begin to appear, Corey’s insomnia and alcoholism combine with his insecurity in seeking help from those around him, leading him down a path of paranoia and latent violence. As we helplessly watch events unfold, it becomes increasingly clear that Corey is on a dangerous trajectory that can lead nowhere good.
Missed opportunities, poor communication, and untreated mental health issues snowball out of control until we’re standing beside Corey as an avalanche bears down on us as he looks in the other direction.
As readers, we’re stuck asking questions for which we suspect we know the answers. Is someone threatening Corey and his family, or is he reading more into innocuous events than a more level head might interpret? Who is coming for him, and what do they have planned? Will Corey piece together the clues in time to avoid a catastrophic conclusion?
MacMillan leaves you wondering how everything will play out as the climax approaches, and he forces you to hope that things are not as they seem because if you’re right, you may not want to subject yourself to what those final pages contain. You know you won’t be able to turn away, though, regardless of how it all might end.
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