Livvy Fischer’s life has become derailed.
Having sung for audiences since she was a child, the classically trained opera soprano is now terrified to sing publicly. Stuck in a dead-end job, she musters the courage to audition for Opera San Jose. Though she starts strong, the audition is a disaster. She decides to begin with a smaller goal—she’ll try singing at her church.
Partly due to a mix-up, partly to her crush on the young pastor leading the outreach, Livvy joins a worship team bound for the chapel at San Quentin. When a riot breaks out, she is separated from her pastor and the rest of her church group, sheltered by a Christian inmate. Though the plan is to keep hidden and ride out the storm, Livvy becomes the obsession of a serial killer.
Livvy must rely upon God, find her own courage, and trust a small cadre of protectors as she flees the hunter, escapes burning buildings, and hatches schemes to get herself and the others rescued. Yet, through all of the uncertainty and danger, the biggest surprise Livvy encounters is her feelings for her inmate rescuer.
A debut novel offers a prison thriller leavened with Christian philosophy.
At the heart of this tale is Livvy Fischer. Poor Livvy, a young Christian and an opera singer, is finally coming to terms with the suicide of her stalker, Wade. Since Wade immolated himself in front of her at a recital, she hasn’t been able to sing publicly again. But she has resumed working at a local coffee shop, where she has become infatuated with a cute customer, Lucas. When Lucas finds out Livvy sings, he invites her to participate in his church’s Christmas program. Livvy attends a meeting about the event and discovers that Lucas is actually a pastor at the church. She also allows herself to be talked into taking part in an outreach program at San Quentin prison to spend more time with Lucas: “Three hours round-trip with Lucas—that was part of the deal. The compensation.” This proves to be an unfortunate choice, as a riot breaks out right after the church singers and a prison devotional group gather in San Quentin’s chapel. Livvy is soon on the run with Tobin, a born-again prisoner who is trying to keep her safe from Gant, a serial killer whose victims are petite blondes like her. And Lucas is the prisoner of Gant, who is trying to beat information about Livvy out of him. Throughout the narrative, Vorreiter has the Christian characters, such as Lucas, drawing solace from the Word of God: “Lord, I know that you are in charge even though it doesn’t look like it. Please give me wisdom and courage. Shelter us, protect us.” Still the Christian philosophy doesn’t distract from the fast-paced plot. The author turns San Quentin into a character, graphically changing it into a foreboding setting for the civilians stranded there. She challenges the concept of who is a good guy and who a bad guy, as some of the prisoners aid the church group members caught inside. Vorreiter has created characters that readers should care about, regardless of their backgrounds. She transforms a prison into a place where Livvy, Tobin, Lucas, and others are born again, learning better ways to cope with their lives.
A propulsive action tale augmented with worthwhile character development.
Intense debut novel worthy of “MUST READ” status.
The most intense novel I can remember reading, ever. I’m blown away. Modern war insurgency novels are not as penetratingly written as “No Turning Back.” Katie Vorreiter’s story should come with an American Heart Association warning: could be hazardous to your heart rate. Expect to feel the fear inside the prison as a riot erupts and a church’s prison ministry team finds itself caught up in the fray of convicts gone berserk. It is maddeningly fast-paced action very early in the novel and continues relentlessly through 95% of the pages. Page turning at the pace of running for your very life. This is a book to experience, not just read, yet in the end it gracefully slows and concludes its finale finesse leaving readers with a satisfactory conclusion, a Christian moral victory, and, yes even a bit of romantic bliss. In an every-man-for-himself situation, a few unlikely helpers surface as Good Samaritans in a war zone.
Debut novels can be a bit of a grab-bag risk, but one I often attempt, and with an open mind. “No Turning Back” begins more as a romance, with a protagonist shook by a past history, nothing all that noteworthy…but…by the end of the fifth short chapter I was hooked with a captivation level of 120%. That’s good writing. This is so much more than a romantic story, it’s a thriller that can thrill that genre’s fans, with the romantic interspersed more as a sub-plot, to my male view.
A story so intensely written, it was easy awarding 5 stars to Katie Vorreiter’s debut.
~Harold Wolf, Amazon Top 500 Reviewer
Once I started this story, there was No Turning Back. Livvy, for me, is one of the best heroines ever written. The good, bad, and downright ugly were on display, as well as courage, heroism, and love. You will not be disappointed in any part of this book…
The author accurately & simply describes the wonderful, forgiving power of Jesus through her characters’ lives & actions. She also highlights our human feelings, which can be overcome through the power of Jesus; showing how we are not perfect, but we are forgiven.
Her imagery was wonderful — I felt like I was in the middle of an action film while reading. The book took serious issues and characters and reminded one to not judge until you know the full story, a great life lesson.
The man in second row center stared at her. Fleecy hair swept back and angular jaw set, he was a clean-shaven version of Michelangelo’s God. And beneath craggy white brows, his dark eyes glinted at Livvy Fischer.
Livvy clenched her fists, digging the nails of her ring fingers into her palms. Of course he stared. Giordano Landucci, music director and principal conductor for Opera San Jose, generally stared at auditioning sopranos.
But, seated in the front left row of the auditorium, Livvy wasn’t singing.
Tamping down panic, she attempted a neutral, pleasant expression as she watched the mezzosoprano on the stage of the historic California Theatre. But Livvy couldn’t concentrate on the Carmen aria. “Love is a rebellious bird”? Psht—Bizet made the heartless sound so beautiful. “When will I love you? Good Lord, I don’t know. Maybe never, maybe tomorrow. But not today, that’s for sure.” Opera wasn’t short on mind games. At least Carmen gave a guy a heads-up: you didn’t get that in the real world.
Livvy could feel Landucci’s gaze burn the side of her face as he continued to focus his attention on her instead of on the mezzo. He must have known who she was. Any casting assistant worth their salt would have checked out Livvy’s credentials. And a quick web search would have yielded the articles: Oh, that soprano …
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