When `Pratt', a dying convict suddenly decides to have a pang of conscience, his well-meaning actions have a devastating effect on the future of so many, setting off an unstoppable chain reaction of events, which take so many lives into a downward spiral of self-destruction and misery.
Ben, is a model citizen; loving husband, and devoted step-father, existing in his `safe' life, where every action is made only after the considered risk has been analysed and accepted. It isn't until we discover the horrific demons which haunt Ben's past life, that we begin to realise just how fragile is the cocoon he has built up around himself and how easily it can shatter into a million pieces, leaving Ben vulnerable once again to his raw feelings and emotions of hatred, revenge and retribution.
When we are first introduced to Stew, it quickly becomes obvious that he has a whole different set of demons all his own, which he battles on a regular daily basis. His naturally violent tendencies and addictions, are only barely controlled, still bubbling away gently, just below the surface veneer of domesticity and respectability he has built up around himself. Repressed memories of his past horrific crimes, are re-played in his mind as always being the `other persons' fault, with himself having been provoked beyond all reason, to carry out the terrible acts of retribution and violence that he has inflicted on so many.
Detective Lydia (Gonzo) Gonzalez, is yet another in a long line of fiction detectives who is trying to juggle the pressures of family life, with the stress and demands of the job and probably achieving neither to their full potential. She makes the fundamental mistake of allowing her heart to rule her head and looses her cool on more than one occasion, only then does she realise that her actions have probably made an already bad situation, much, much worse. In trying to make reparation for her mistakes, her life as well as her career are on the line. Loosing one and narrowly saving the other, forces her to re-evaluate her life and what it really means to her.
The two main supporting players, as this terrible scenario unfolds, are Alex and Pam, Ben and Stew's respective wives. Although they outwardly appear to be at opposite ends of the social spectrum and are destined never to meet, they are not so different as you might think. Both are determined characters, who will defend their homes and loved ones with their own lives if necessary. Neither however, are strong enough to withstand the combined force of the hatred between their husbands and are powerless to influence the outcome and the effect it will inevitably have on all their futures.
All of the remaining supporting characters are well developed and defined, in a way which is both sympathetic to the overall storyline, yet which is also designed to highlight both their individual strengths and weaknesses.
Ben and Stew, complex and at times almost frightening characters, two men both fighting to keep buried dark memories from the past, controlling demons which, when the layers of the story are peeled back, find them both pushed beyond their limits, hunter and hunted both.
The fast paced storyline flows naturally from one phase to the next, on this horrific roller coaster ride, of high tension and exposed, raw emotions. The storyline is a carefully measured piece of writing, which is equally plot and character driven, creating a finely balanced narrative, which keeps its pace and action right until the very last page. The ending however, did come as something of a surprise and wasn't quite what I had expected, just one last twist in the tail of this venomous, deadly snake named `revenge'.
Given Doug's hitherto successful screenplay writing career, I think that `The Safety Expert' would definitely, easily lend itself to being adapted as a screenplay script for a film and even the title sounds fantastic as it is.
`The Safety Expert' had me in its grip and on the edge of my seat, from the very first page, to the very last word and even then I didn't want it to end!