First published back in June of 2010 (in the US) and November of 2012 (in the UK), American thriller writer Simon Wood’s novel ‘Terminated’ became the author’s forth full-length novel to see publication.

DLS Synopsis:
Stephen Tarbell couldn’t believe the injustice of it.  Six months ago both he and his fellow work colleague, Gwen Farris, had gone for the position of Manager of Quality Assurance in their department at Pace Pharmaceuticals.  However, for reasons that Tarbell couldn’t quite fathom, Gwen Farris had gotten the promotion and not him.  And now, in his performance evaluation a whole six months later, he was being told by Farris that since failing to obtain the promotion it had been noted that Tarbell’s overall performance had deteriorated considerably.

Most irritatingly of all, Gwen Farris had only been with the firm eighteen months prior to her unfair promotion and now here she was, walking all over him.  Tarbell’s inner hatred for those that had kept him down had finally come to a breaking point.  He’d had enough, and he wasn’t going to just stand by and let Gwen Farris of all people grade him so poorly.  And so, after everyone else has left for the day, Tarbell hides away in the company car park and waits for Gwen Farris to leave.

When Gwen emerges from the building and proceeds to unlock her car door, Tarbell emerges from the shadows and pulls a knife on her, pressing it up against her throat.  Fearing for her life, Farris stands motionless as Tarbell demands that she change her performance evaluation of him or else things are going to get a lot worse for her.  Barely able to believe that the situation has gotten this out of hand, Gwen Farris promises to comply with his demands and she is let go, with only a small cut on her neck showing that the threat at knifepoint had taken place.

After driving around Harbor Bay in shock at what had just occurred, Gwen Farris arrives home to her husband, Paul, and their three-year-old daughter Kirsten.  Gwen reluctantly tells Paul about the incident knowing that Paul’s instant reaction will be to inform the police.  However, Gwen resists police involvement at this early stage.  She doesn’t want her family being dragged into the whole mess, which is what she believes will ultimately happen if she reports the incident to the authorities.

And so, Gwen Farris makes a call to Deborah Langan, the Head of Human Resources at Pace Pharmaceuticals.  Deborah instantly gets in touch with Robert Ingram at Private Security International (PSI), who are employed by Pace to get involved when threatening and violent matters such as this happen in the workplace.  Ingram immediately promises Gwen that they will do everything they can to protect her and that they will handle the entire investigation from her on in.  Ingram further strongly discourages any police involvement into the matter, saying that it would probably end up counterproductive.

Having been through an attack some fifteen years ago, where a vicious man named Desmond Parker attempted to rape her, stabbing her in the stomach and then leaving her for dead, Gwen decides that the less that is made of Tarbell’s threat the better.  However, when Tarbell learns of PSI’s involvement and as such Gwen Farris’ betrayal regarding their supposed ‘deal’, he decides that Gwen must pay for everything he believes she has done to him.  His rage has magnified.  And it’s all directed at one person – Gwen Farris.

And so Stephen Tarbell’s campaign of hate to systematically destroy Gwen Farris’ life and everything that she holds precious to her has now begun.  Tarbell will stop at nothing to see Gwen pay for what she has done to him.  And anyone who gets in his way will find themselves at his unforgiving mercy.

Stephen Tarbell is about to take revenge to a whole new level...

DLS Review:
The plot of ‘Terminated’ is relatively simple.  A disgruntled employee snaps and takes his revenge to terrifying proportions.  It’s a situation that is frighteningly real – and all too easy to envision.  And in that simple notion, the absolute key to the novel’s blood-chilling impact can be found.  And author Simon Wood has exploited this for all it’s worth.

The novel sets off straight into Tarbell’s performance evaluation, and from that moment onwards, Wood goes straight for the jugular with Tarbell’s extreme reaction to Gwen Farris’ every move.  In a matter of pages, Wood is ramping up the tension and escalating the threat level with a momentum born out of frighteningly-real madness.

Farris’ emotional response to the levels of intimidation that Tarbell is thrusting upon her is portrayed to an absolute tee.  Indeed, Farris is seen as a strong yet very human character.  She still has emotional scarring (as well as an inch long physical one on her stomach) from when she was stabbed and left for dead by Desmond Parker.  But she puts her trust in those around her – most notably in PSI.  And it’s this faith in others who are promising to do what’s best for her that ultimately contributes to her eventual downfall.

The book is certainly an intense read.  That’s not to say its page-to-page action and heart-in-mouth suspense.  Instead, a vast amount of emphasis is put on the psychological impact of the torment that Tarbell is inflicting upon Farris.  And it’s here that the real intensity of the novel is at its most dominating.  The power that Tarbell holds over Farris becomes unbelievable.  The destruction he can (and does) cause on her life is terrifying.  And it gets you in the gut at how horrifyingly possible this could all be.

Okay, so at times the novel does stretch its plausibility a little.  And some of the (quite disastrous) decisions that Gwen Farris makes, particularly during the early stages of the torment, are so very weakly justified.  Nevertheless, Wood does make a half-hearted attempt to justify these important plot-swaying decisions.  But the near-farcical nature of Farris’ reasoning starts to become quite irritating.  Luckily, Wood doesn’t dwell on the matter, and quickly moves onwards with the escalating destruction of Torbell’s revenge.

As the novel hurtles towards what could only ever be a dramatic final showdown between Farris and Torbell, Wood cranks up the emotional strain to the absolute nth degree – painting a monumentally vivid picture of the utter desperation of Farris at this final stage.  It’s intense and dramatic and goes for all it’s worth with an ending that is perfectly in-tune with the escalating intensity of the preceding storyline.

All in all ‘Terminated’ is one hell of a roller-coaster of a ride.  It takes torment, hatred, desperation and revenge, and magnifies them to terrifying new degrees.  It gets you in the stomach and keeps pulling away at your guts with the sheer emotional strain of Farris’ desperation.  And because of this, it quickly becomes one hell of a difficult book to put down.

The novel runs for a total of 369 pages.

© DLS Reviews


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