Roses are Red…
When Queen Bee put Five Steps Ahead by Samantha Baca up for grabs I, as politely as I could, let the other bees know that yes, it would be mine. The blurb was enough to make my True Crime loving heart sing with anticipation as it promised twists, turns and chemistry and to no surprise… it delivered!
Our leading lady Hannah is determined to experience everything that life has to offer and turns to online dating as a way to break out of her normal routine. Her date becomes a modern girl’s worst nightmare come to life when she ends up drugged and unconscious. Unfortunately for her, this is only the beginning of what turns out to be her own personal horror story when it becomes all too evident that she is being watched. Mysterious notes start appearing with warnings that are too close for comfort. When her stalker’s attentions go from concerning to criminal she seeks the help of handsome detective Max Romano. He’s reeling from the mysterious disappearance of his sister but quickly becomes protective of Hannah who is understandably terrified of the events unfolding around her. Their connection grows as tensions rise but their age difference, professional boundaries and constant fear of what’s waiting around the corner make their relationship seemingly doomed from the start.
If you enjoy a suspenseful story Five Steps Ahead was a lot of fun. I got MAJOR late 90s slasher movie vibes and nostalgia is always a direct line to my heart. I don’t want to give away any spoilers because I think this is best read going in blind to be able to feel the full effect of Hannah’s fear and desperation, but there is plenty of mystery to keep you on your metaphorical toes. One thing that pulled me out of the story is that the police work revolving Hannah’s case felt a little lacking and some of the “discoveries” made toward the end seemed like they should have been obvious to seasoned detectives. It may have only been noteworthy for me because true crime documentaries and podcasts are one of my guilty pleasures, much to my husband’s dismay. Despite my frustrations I came to realize that it only added to the nostalgic feeling of sitting in a theater yelling at the screen that the characters are unknowingly about to walk into a trap. Creepers aside, watching Hannah and Max gravitate toward each other for comfort amidst the chaos added delicious tension to the otherwise sinister atmosphere that surrounded them. This was an exciting introduction to Samantha Baca’s work and I can’t wait to see what else she has in store for us!