Baitby J Kent Messum (Website, Facebook, Twitter)
Published by Penguin on August 27, 2013
Genres: Adult, Horror, Thriller
Source: Publisher, TLC Tours
Amazon • Book Depository • Goodreads
No one is coming to your aid. We have ensured this.
Six strangers wake up on a remote island in the Florida Keys with no memory of their arrival. They soon discover their common bond: all of them are heroin addicts. As the first excruciating pangs of withdrawal make themselves felt, the six notice a yacht anchored across open water. On it lurk four shadowy figures, protected by the hungry sharks that patrol the waves. So begins a dangerous game. The six must undertake the impossible—swim to the next island where a cache of heroin awaits, or die trying. When alliances form, betrayal is inevitable. As the fight to survive intensifies, the stakes reach terrifying heights—and their captors’ motives finally begin to emerge.
Four men and two women wake up on a deserted island in the Florida Keys. It doesn’t take long for them to find the common thread that they all have: an addiction to heroin that rules their lives. Off the coast on board a boat, their sadistic kidnappers observe them, waiting for the game to start and placing their bets. Facing gut-wrenching withdrawal symptoms, all these strangers can piece together is what they find in a letter inside a chest with some food and water–orders to swim to the next island where the promise of the purest heroin they’ve ever had will be their reward.
As they grow sicker, tempers flare, fists are thrown, obscenities are screamed, alliances are formed. Soon they have no choice but to listen to the demons inside their head. Swimming for the other island sounds like a plausible idea. Little do they know that the waters are full of sharks that have a taste for humans thanks to their kidnappers, so they circle the island, waiting for the first body to enter the water…
Bait is a gritty, fast-paced horror novel. The first part of the book allows you to get to know these unfortunate souls in alternating chapters of their time on the island and the few days leading up to their abduction. Their lives aren’t pretty, and addiction isn’t a comfortable thing to read about. Messum does a great job of portraying these things in a realistic way without being too cliche or outlandish. It simply is what it is: criminal, dirty, desperate, and oftentimes hopeless.
This isn’t simply a story about bad versus good, not when the protagonists have done a decent amount of bad things in their addicted lives. Bait is shades of grey and black, a social commentary on good people done wrong and turning against the establishment in the worst way possible. Who is worthy of redemption, and who actually has a chance to make it out alive?
I give Bait a four out of five. Great character development with excellent pacing and tone. The amount of violence and gore is appropriate for this type of book because essentially it’s a shark attack book when it comes down aspects of it, so it may not be for everyone, but I loved the raw viscerals and grittiness. This is one book that is pretty true to life, and that makes it so much more of an emotionally intense read. I can’t wait to see what J. Kent Messum writes next, and hopefully it’s a bit longer because this book flew by in no time at all.
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Check out the other TLC tour stops for Bait here.