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Archive for the ‘Kidnapping’ Category

Private Detective Roxane Weary is the daughter of the late Police Officer Frank Weary. Weary was a hard driving, hard drinking detective and since his death nine months earlier, Roxane (with one ‘n’) has started following more in his footsteps, especially with the drinking.

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Her good (sober) brother, Matt, recommends her to Danielle Stockton, whose brother Brad was convicted of murdering his girlfriend Sarah’s parents and is on death row. The execution date is two months hence. Brad has, for fifteen years, denied any wrong doing and the only person who can corroborate that, Sarah, has been missing all these years. Good at finding things, Roxane is charged with finding Sarah, who Danielle swears she saw in town two weeks earlier.

Unfortunately, Roxane screws things up more than she recovers things, the alcoholic haze she lives under not helping her much. Her thought processes are mush at times and her theories go awry. Her credibility lessens, as does her popularity. But, of course, there is more than meets the eye, otherwise there would be no story.

The Last Place You Look, Lepionka’s debut novel, has the right amount of action, self pity, family discord. Despite, or because of, all her faults readers will immediately like Roxane. Her drinking is a problem. Her love life is a mess. Her life is a mess, actually. Positive comparisons to her father leave her ambivalent because in some ways she wants to be like him and in others she certainly doesn’t.

The story line is plausible and keeps readers reading. There was one part towards the end in which I was afraid for her. Now that takes a lot and says a lot.

All in all, The Last Place You Look is an admirable debut and I, for one, am looking for more adventures with Roxane Weary.

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TheDevilYouKnowWhen Evie was eleven, her best friend, Lianne, was abducted by an unknown. Her body was found twelve days later. Evie is now a 22 year old reporter and the case is still unsolved, although police think they know who the perpetrator was. Unfortunately (a) they can’t prove it and (b) they can’t locate him.

Ever since the abduction, Evie has been fixated on the case, initially reading the gory details in the newspapers. Eleven years later, she still can’t get it out of her mind. Her current assignment is compiling a list of all the abducted girls over the past 20-30 years, in order to prove that things are getting worse, instead of better. Of course, this brings back all the memories of Lianne’s disappearance.

Although Evie denies it, her new immersion into missing girls is taking over her well being. She ‘remembers’ things she’d forgotten at the time Lianne went missing. She’s finding links between people that may or may not be important–or real. She fears that someone is following her, looking into her apartment. Her parents are concerned for her. Her best friend, David, two years younger, who she used to babysit for, is concerned. Is what she purports to see reality or a vivid imagination or hallucination?

De Mariaffi, whose only other published works is a collection of short stories, has penned quite the intriguing book. There is suspense on every page, right up to the end (think music constantly forewarning danger playing in the background–this would make a great movie adaptation). She has readers convinced ‘who done it’. She constantly skips around time-wise. Evie can be talking to David one minute and without notice she’s thinking of things that happened eleven years ago or yesterday. While it is sometimes disconcerting, it just adds to the imbalance of Evie’s jumbled mind.

There are no quotation marks when characters speak, making it difficult to determine whether it’s a thought, spoken word, or description. In many ways, this book is written as a ‘train of thought’ book, skipping around as would one’s mind as it races through various thoughts, possibilities, scenarios.

I’m still trying to figure out how I feel about the ending. It’s not what I expected. Let me know your thoughts after you read The Devil You Know. It is absolutely worth the read.

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Emmy and Oliver were best friends since birth. They were born on the same day in the same hospital (their basinets were next to each other) and they lived next door to each other. Their bedrooms faced each other and at night, they would each blink their light when it was bedtime. Emmy, Oliver, Caro (Caroline, but no one ever called her that) and Drew were an inseparable quartet.

When they were seven years old, Oliver disappeared. His father, Keith, kidnapped him. His mother, Maureen, was frantic and tried everything she could to find him, with no luck. After the initial news media frenzy, the public lost interest and things got back to normal, as normal as they could be under the EmmyAndOlivercircumstances. Emmy continued being friends with Caro and Drew. However, Emmy’s parents became over protective of their only child, prohibiting her from doing many things young kids did, forcing on her an early bedtime. As a result, she ended up hiding a lot from her parents.

When she was 17, Oliver returned. The problem with that was several fold: (a) Maureen had remarried and had twin girls, (b) she remembered Oliver as a seven year old boy and that’s who she expected to return and (c) Emmy and Caro and Drew had 10 years of memories, inside jokes and dreams of which Oliver was not a part.

Robin Benway covers a lot in Emmy and Oliver. Most people think of the anguish of parents losing a child to kidnapping. And when we think of kidnapping, as in the news media, it is always children hidden away and brutalized. In Emmy and Oliver, Keith treated Oliver well and after Oliver got over the initial shock of a missing mother, he had a relatively normal life. Yet, thrust back into his mother’s life and home was traumatic for both parent and child.

Benway does a great job of verbalizing the impact of Oliver’s return on everyone, Maureen and her young twins, Emmy, Caro and Drew and especially Oliver. I’m not giving anything away by saying the Emmy & Oliver is a love story. There are some loves that do stand the test of time and separation. But it’s more than that. It’s the story of awakening from a 10 year slumber to find out that things aren’t the same as when you drifted off to sleep…for everyone, not just Oliver. I liked every character in Emmy & Oliver, even Keith. I can understand everyone’s actions and motives. Other than Keith’s actions at the end, I thought everything rang true (not that I was ever involved in the situation described in the book).

I know describing a book as a ‘beach read’ may be the kiss of death, but I don’t mean it to be. Had I received the book when it is issued in June 2015, I can see me sitting under a big shade tree on Cape Cod, listening to the sound of the bay and the seals, reading Emmy & Oliver. So maybe I’ll amend my statement to say it’s a good summer time, feel good, read. I do highly recommend Emmy & Oliver.

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Tell Me by Joan Bauer is the sugary sweet story of twelve-year-old TellMeAnna McConnell’s summer at her grandmother, Mim’s, house in Virginia. Her parents are going through a trial separation and her father is staying at home in Philadelphia, her mother is off to her brother’s in New Jersey and Anna goes to her paternal grandmother.

Anna is an actress whose stellar role was as a radish in an after school production. At home she dresses up as a cranberry and dances for a local store at the mall. In Rosemont she’s recruited to dress up as a petunia for the local library. While taking a break and sitting on the library front steps, a van pulls up. An Asian woman gets out and drags a child into the library to use the rest room. The girl is dragged back out and into the van which takes off. Anna feels something wasn’t right and the girl’s big, doe-like eyes showed fear. Winnie, the librarian, also felt something was amiss. Winnie’s grandson, Brad, happens to work for Homeland Security. So goes this unlikely premise.

Rosemont, VA has the small town, east coast equivalent of the Rose Parade and Mim is the organizer. Amidst the backdrop of flowers and the parade, Tell Me tells the story of Anna’s insistence on finding the doe-eyed girl and her hopes of her parent’s reunion.

Tell Me is more of a fable with the moral blatantly displayed on every page…don’t necessarily dismiss what you see. Anna is concerned that she’s made more of the van incident than was actually there. But Winnie and Mim and her father and Brad tell her not to doubt herself.

I’m a big, big, BIG Joan Bauer fan. I’ve heard her speak and the energy and sincerity she displays are unequaled. I love her books, especially Close to Famous, Hope was Here and Rules of the Road. But even I have to say that diabetics should stay away from this one…it’s just too darn sweet. I’ve never met an Anna-like child, so good, so focused on being a radish or petunia, so insistent that something be done about the doe-eyed girl. I’ve never met adults who are soooooooooooo supportive, so indulgent of their children, so mushy.

I’m a parent and I hope that I supported my kids and I know I’ll spoil my grandkids but I’m not even sure that I want to be like Mim.

Aside from that, the plot doesn’t work for me. I’m not sure that grandma can convince Homeland Security grandson that something needs to be investigated…that human trafficking might be involved. Maybe, but maybe no.

So, it disappoints me to say that, while I liked Tell Me, it is over the top on story line, characters and sugar.

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