Therapy camp turns into hostage crisis in 'The Masked Truth'

AP News
Posted: Oct 12, 2015 11:05 AM

"The Masked Truth" (Doubleday Canada), by Kelley Armstrong

When what she assumes will be a typical night of baby-sitting ends in a home invasion and double murder, 17-year-old Riley Vasquez finds herself dealing with a case of post-traumatic stress disorder and more publicity than she would like. At the suggestion of her therapist, Riley agrees to attend a weekend therapy camp along with six other teens grappling with their own issues.

Situated in a renovated warehouse with endless corridors and only two exits, the seven patients begin introductions. There is Max, who repeatedly claims he's "right as rain" with no reason to be there; Aaron, an arrogant youth who's happy to divulge every reason he hates his wealthy father; Brienne, who knows all about Riley from the newspapers; and a handful of others. But before any counseling takes place, three armed men with masks enter the building and take the group hostage, demanding Aaron's father come up with enough money to purchase the lot's freedom.

From here "The Masked Truth" by Kelley Armstrong slips back and forth between the minds of Riley, intuitive and resourceful, yet fearful of what's to come, and Max, whom we learn is a loveable, schizophrenic Brit whose stream of consciousness plays song lyrics, recites definitions and argues with the ever-present voices he hears while trying to stay alive.

Soon after the demands are made, some of the hostages sneak out of the room. As the teens walk the maze of halls in an effort to escape their captors, memories of family, friends and tragedy flood their minds, revealing what brought the patients to therapy in the first place. From disappointed fathers to overprotective mothers, each hostage has a story, though some never get the chance to tell it as the captors begin killing.

"The Masked Truth" also sheds light on mental illness and neatly dispels stereotypes, all the while remaining fast-paced and suspenseful. The hostage situation proves a creative backdrop in which to explore what it's like to be young and fearful of losing control, especially when the captives realize what lies outside the warehouse walls may be just as dangerous as what's inside. Escape might not be as sweet as they think.