This book received high praise from Steve Berry, Jeffery Deavers, Kathy Reichs, and Lee Childs. But it was RT Book Reviews claiming: Combine Dirty Harry with a loving wife and mother and you might end up with Lucy Guardino" that convinced me to read the first in this series. See what you think.
Copyright: May 2015 (Edgy Reads) 448 pgs
Series: 1st in Lucy Guardino FBI Thriller series
Sensuality: Adult subjects, some violence, and swearing
Mystery Sub-genre: Police Procedural/Thriller
Main Characters: Supervisory Special Agent Lucy Guardino, lead for Sexual Assault Felony Enforcement squad
Setting: Modern day, Pittsburgh Pennsylvania
Obtained Through: Personal purchase
Ashley is a very unhappy teen with parents that can't be bothered to notice her much, who cuts herself. She manages to develop a friendship with Bobby in a computer game world. Bobby and Ashley are supposed to runaway together, but a predator drugs her, abducts her, and proceeds to break her mentally to fashion his own version of a perfect "wife". Lucy is assigned the case and just feels that Ashley isn't dead like everybody thinks. Nor does she think Ashley just ran away like others suggest. But this is a bad time for Lucy, her own daughter has a mysterious illness and she is torn between the time-limited search for Ashley and her own daughter. Lucy has her hands full coordinating several agencies in the search, but is hampered even further by another team member who is having a torrid affair with a reporter who wants to get even with Lucy.
Lucy is a very tough workaholic parent juggling a daughter and husband with the job. She isn't very emotionally available, so she has plenty of baggage. Nick is her loving, stable, and long-suffering husband. Megan, Her daughter was a somewhat whiny pre-adolescent. But she does show a loving side towards her mother occasionally which I appreciated. Special Agent Zach Taylor is the Forensic Computer Tech guy on her team. He is still green and enthusiastic and I can see his character getting a dose of reality in another book. Don Burroughs is the Pittsburgh Bureau of Police Major Crime's Squad who is a lecherous scummy guy with the unethical and vindictive journalist.
Pittsburgh doesn't stick out in the story much, but the barn where Ashley is held is creepy, really. That was the best setting in the novel, utilized effectively. Lucy comes off a bit too Jason Bourne-like when she survives a 5 inch metal shard in the back and has it removed and stitched with only local anesticia and goes right back to work. It's unbelievable whether guy or girl. That stretched the believability beyond normal bounds. Otherwise, the concept wasn't too far of a reach with the large numbers of predators online now. I do have to mention I was put off by how Lucy seemed to determine who the villain was in some flash of inspiration, when the reader simply didn't have enough clues to determine it. That was a little too convenient and never fully explained. The climax was tense and nail-biting suspenseful which was good and all the major story-lines are brought to a conclusion satisfactorily.
Overall this book accomplishes what a thriller's prime goal is, to take the reader on a thrill ride with barely time to catch your breath.
Rating: Excellent - Loved it, it had a good grip on me! Because of the language and sensitive topic, you may wish to read a sample first.
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