Set Free is the latest novel from Canadian-based crime fiction author Anthony Bidulka. As with much of his work, Set Free shows Bidulka’s love of travel and exotic locales.
Set Free opens with Jaspar Wills’ arrival in Marrakech after he has left his previous life behind. When his scheduled transportation does not arrive, Jaspar chooses to accept a ride from a random man at the airport. Readers will immediately feel the tension, as it is eminently clear that this is a horrible choice. Kidnapped and locked away in a remote isolation cell, the first part of the novel documents Jaspar’s treatment at the hands of his captors.
Interwoven into the recounting of his imprisonment are flashback sections revealing why Jaspar is running from his past. Readers quickly discover that his marriage to Jenn fell apart after their daughter’s abduction – a case that remains unsolved. Experienced crime fiction fans will expect this story to dovetail with Jaspar’s current situation – and it does, but not in the clichéd ways that seem most obvious.
The second half of the novel picks up six months later and introduces the character of Katie Edward. She is a reporter who travels to Morocco in the hopes of writing an award-worthy article on the Jaspar Wills case and all the intrigue involved. Once again, in this section, Bidulka avoids any stereotypical pitfalls and instead presents a wholly original and twisty tale readers will clamor for.
One of Anthony Bidulka’s strengths as a writer has always been his ability to craft characters readers care about. Set Free is no exception. Even as reader loyalty shifts throughout the novel, every character on the page elicits interest, empathy, and support. So much so, that by the time all is exposed, readers will feel a real sense of loss.
Set Free is perfect for those who enjoy a self-contained story with thrilling elements, human emotion, and a satisfying resolution. There is one ambiguous element at the conclusion – one that will likely be debated by fans of the novel for years to come. But rest assured, as strong as Anthony Bidulka is with series writing, Set Free proves that his talent extends to the stand-alone as well.
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