This One's a Nail Biter

THE CALLER by Dan Krzyzkowski

 
Leslie Calloway’s life did not necessarily follow the path she had anticipated, but all in all it was good.  She felt fortunate so she wanted to give back in some way.  Events in her past made volunteering at 1-800-FRIENDS, a call center for children whose parents are out of the house, a good fit.  It’s a call center set up in the basement of church with outdated phone systems, a standing protocol not to call 911 (there had been some crank call issues in the past) and manned on a totally volunteer basis.  On one particular night, with a major winter storm brewing outside, Leslie wonders how she herself is going to get home to her son and to relieve the babysitter when the phone rings.  Seven-year-old Justin is on the line and he has just told Leslie that there is a man in his basement.
 
So begins the hours long ordeal for Leslie on one end of the phone and Justin on the other.  Leslie does everything she knows how to do but eventually she decides protocol be damned and calls 911 … the storm must have brought down the lines and no one answers … with her heart pounding she realizes it’s just her and Justin and, despite the storm, she needs to get him out of that house.  As she is trying to save Justin the crisis takes an unexpectedly personal turn and her panic escalates.
 
At 164 pages this is not an exceptionally long book, but it sure does pack a punch.  Told in Leslie’s first person narrative the reader finds themselves sitting right there in the room as she continuously tries to move Justin to a safer place.  The suspense is nerve-tingling.  If you pick this book up make sure you set aside a block of time because you are going to want to read it from the first page to the last in one sitting.  I know I did.
 
This story takes place in 1994.  I did not think anything of that until it came to my attention that this was not just a choice by the author to (maybe) explain some of the “dated” phone equipment but due to the fact that this book was first published about ten years ago.  According to some other reviews he has revised the book, tightened up the editing and added some sections possibly fleshing out Leslie’s personal side.  Whatever compelled this revision, it worked.
 
I’d like to thank Mr. Krzyzkowski for sending me a copy of this book at no charge in the hope that I would post an honest review.
 
I read library books, previously gently loved books, brand new books where no one has cracked the spine yet and I read on my ereader as well as my tablet so I don’t often speak to the physical attributes of the books I read.  However, I want to add here that for a paperback edition this was a lovely book to hold and read.  The book has nice crisp, white, better than average quality paper with a clean font that made reading this page-turner even more enjoyable.
 
I am definitely going to check into Mr. Krzyzkowski other book “One Lane Bridge”.
 
ABOUT THE AUTHOR (from the book cover)
 
Dan Krzyzkowski attended Lafayette College in Easton, Pennsylvania, where he earned a degree in psychology.  He is the author of the novel One Lane Bridge.
 

A writer and fisherman, Krzyzkowki lives in Hunterdon County, New Jersey, and works for the U.S. Postal Service.