Trouble Comes Back

(Critical Survey of Contemporary Fiction)

It is evident at once to Jason Keltner, Robert Goldstein, and Martin Altamarino, the three protagonists of Trouble Comes Back and of two earlier novels by Keith Snyder, that Dwight Cooper, a musician who has spent the last few years in the process of fading away, is not much of a father. What kind of a father, after all, would leave his eight-year-old daughter in a car while he goes to score some drugs? It is ironic, then, that they soon find themselves indirectly in Cooper’s employ. Their assignment is to protect that daughter from what may be a kidnapping threat originating from Lissa Court, Dwight’s ex-wife and the mother of the child.

Readers of suspense novels know that, in this genre, possible kidnapping threats have a way of becoming actual kidnappings. They also know that things are seldom what they seem. Both understandings are confirmed in the course of Trouble Comes Back. The writer’s job is to confirm the expectations of readers while surprising them at the same time. On the evidence of this novel, it is a job Keith Snyder has mastered.

Part of Snyder’s achievement rests on the inventiveness of his plotting. The twists are frequent, and the surprises are consistently at least as plausible as they have to be. But Snyder is also adept at luring readers into subplots and into the byways of character and relationships. The novel’s heroes are an attractive trio, made more so because Snyder allows them some of the uncertainty, awkwardness, and rashness appropriate to their youth. Each of them is in his own way dealing with issues of growth while trying to meet the challenges of events that are often shocking and of a resolution that is more than slightly disturbing, both for the characters and for the involved reader. Snyder has blended a complex mix of ingredients into a superior suspense novel.