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Wonderland

Wonderland - Jennifer Hillier

When a boy goes missing, last seen on top of a Ferris wheel in Wonderland, and a rotting body is later found in the same amusement park, Deputy Chief Vanessa Castro sets her sights on the amusement park. What evil is lurking beneath the theme park's facade?

Wonderland was a bit of a rollercoaster, pun intended. Vanessa Castro is new to Seaside, a Washington town supported largely by Wonderland, a theme park. Since the entire town's livelihood depends on the park, she runs into quite a few roadblocks during her investigation.

For my money, a thriller has to have a certain amount of misdirection. This one certainly had its share. I thought I knew who the killer was at the 20% mark but I was in the dark until the book was nearly over. Hillier sidestepped a lot of the usual thriller cliches, although the obligatory insta-love/hookup was there.

I did like the Vanessa Castro character aside from the times where she was clearly thinking with her vagina. She was torn between duty and her love for her daughter, as well as having the guilt over her husband's death gnawing at her. Actually, a lot of the characters had hidden depths. Bianca Bishop, the sultry CEO of Wonderland, came from a broken home and wasn't the bwa-ha-ha villainess I originally pegged her as.

The disappearances of boys with the Wonderland look tied nicely into the park's sordid past. Like I said, Hillier led me by the nose through most of the story. She's a clever one. Another thing that I liked was that while Wonderland took place in a theme park, I wasn't beaten over the head with lots of carnie stuff. I'm looking in your direction, Joyland.

While I didn't think it was fantastic, Wonderland was a pretty good thriller and I'll read more of Jennifer Hillier's stuff. 3.5 out of 5 stars.