Stars: 4 out of 5
Pros: Page turning story
Cons: One dark turn; lots of characters
The Bottom Line:
Team building; murder
Wild and creative story
That kept me intrigued
World’s Worst Team Building Ever
When I learned that Catherine Dilts had written a stand-alone, I was intrigued. I have enjoyed the three books in her Rock Shop Mysteries series, so I was very curious to see what she would do with Survive or Die. The premise sounded interesting, and what a ride it was.
The employees of Bender Clips are going on a corporate retreat. Jack Bender, the owner, has shut things down for a week and rented out the Survive or Die camp in the Colorado mountains. The camp was used as the location for a reality TV show of the same name a decade ago, and the host is still basking off the fame that show brought him. Jack has a surprise for his employees. The winner of the week will get a raise, and the loser will get fired. Leave early? You might be fired as well. The employees, and a few spouses tagging along, are less than enthusiastic at this turn. And some of the employees have their own agendas for the week that go beyond the challenges.
Before things get too far, a small group of employees find a death threat left on Jack Bender’s car. The first night, someone dies, only it isn’t Jack. Was it a tragic accident? Is there a killer at camp? Who will win the raise? Or will accidents befall more people?
This book balances the contest and the mystery well, keeping the focus on both equally. I found myself caring about both of them equally, turning pages to find out what the latest challenge or clue would be. Part of the climax takes things a little darker than I was expecting, but the climax does wrap up all the balls very well and leaves us satisfied. On the whole, this is a creative story told well.
Bender Clips is a relatively small company, but even so, my biggest issue with the book was the large number of employees. While the book focuses on a core group, the cast of characters is still rather large, and I struggled to keep them all straight. This isn’t because they weren’t distinctive, but just because there were so many of them. Fortunately, there was usually plenty of context for us to remember how each character fit into the grand scheme of things when they entered a scene. The core cast of characters really grow as the book progresses, and I enjoyed seeing that.
While the characters are taking things seriously, there is a bit of humor running through the book. Some of the characters and events are designed to mock corporate life. My day job finds me working in the corporate world, and some of those observations hit a little too close to home.
Survive or Die is a wild ride. Pick this book up and hang on so you survive a deadly case of team building.
NOTE: I received a copy of this book.