Sink or Swim by Stacy Juba

Sink or Swim by Stacy Juba Purchase:

    The story swiftly moves through potential suspects with a pace that keeps readers on the edge. 

    Ambitious personal trainer Cassidy Novak has gained national fame for starring on Sink or Swim, nicknamed SOS, a hit game show set aboard a Tall Ship. She hopes the prize money will help to launch her dream of owning a chain of fitness centers. Not only does she lose the competition and have to walk the plank in the finale, but after the game show ends, the terror begins. Upon returning to her small Massachusetts hometown, Cassidy discovers she has attracted a stalker masterminding his own twisted game. She struggles to focus on her health club job and celebrity endorsement opportunities, but her stalker has other plans.

    As her former competitors get knocked off one-by-one, Cassidy refuses to play by his bizarre rules. She’s also being shadowed by hunky photographer Zach Gallagher, who has been assigned to capture her personal moments for a spread in the local newspaper. She wants to trust Zach, but fears he may not be the nice guy that he seems. With or without Zach’s help, when the stalker forces a showdown by threatening her family, Cassidy must once again walk the plank – this time for her life.

    Review by WiLoveBooks:

    Stacy Juba
    Stacy Juba

    I loved this book about the aftermath of a reality show. Cassidy finishes second on Sink or Swim and goes back to her real life. She didn’t win the million dollars, but she quickly realizes that things are different anyway.

    She has lots of fans and admirers and has picked up a stalker. Other contestants from the show start dying. Cassidy doesn’t know what to do or who to trust outside of her family. The mystery kept me guessing.

    I recommend this one if you like mystery and suspense.

The audio was very well done. The narrator has a great voice that fits the story nicely. The pace was good and it was easy to get lost in the story.

    Review by Gaele:

    I’m not a huge reality television watcher, but the premise of a daredevil-styled show as the introduction and backdrop for the murder victims is intriguing. Cassidy is the runner-up, second place for the prize that would have allowed her to pay off some debts and start her own new business.

    An interesting character, Stacy Juba gives us the initial sense that Cassidy is rather calculated and forward thinking: dying the hair, practicing a smile in the mirror, working on ‘comeback lines’ in the hopes they will be quoted around the water cooler. In itself, this isn’t a bad thing, but setting her up as calculated, then having her react in near complete contradiction to that early character: hot-headed, impulsive and often unreasonable, while I could understand her determination to be independent and self-reliant in lieu of the threat, there was something missing that made her likeable in any way more than any other cast member of a reality show.

    But what saves the story is the mystery and the tension created as her cast mates start disappearing, the difficulties encountered with being a ‘celebrity’, the questions about the real intentions of her love interest, Zach and all of the daily stressors of life that don’t include a crazed stalker with murderous intent. Full of tension, twists and some really clever perspective on the reality television and celebrity culture as a whole, the story swiftly moves through potential suspects with a pace that keeps readers on the edge.

    Narration is provided by Funda Duval, initially I wasn’t a fan of the pairing as early on narration felt tentative and there is an accent that came through quite strongly early in the story that didn’t fit with my vision of Cassidy. However, as the ‘newness’ of the story and voice became more familiar, Duval’s narration managed to perfectly capture both tension and assumed voices for characters, that didn’t feel over-worked or false. There were also some early ‘echoes’ in the initial 45 minutes of the audiobook version that may have contributed to the issues, whether a microphone was not shielded or not operating properly, those issues did also resolve.

    ( I did listen with 3 different headphones from in ear to free-standing speakers to a set of high def headphones, none made any significant different to the echo issue I noted.) 
This is only one of a handful of mystery/suspense audiobooks that I have listened to, and I will most certainly be accepting opportunities for more. Juba made a story that was interesting, intriguing and surprising for a wholly entertaining listen.