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by Ace Atkins

Pub Date: May 6th, 2014
ISBN: 978-0-399-16158-2
Publisher: Putnam

Boston’s premier private eye signs on to recover the kidnapped son of one of Boston’s sports heroes.

Defensive lineman Kinjo Heywood is known for his crushing attacks on opposing quarterbacks. Now that a shadowy someone is following him around his hometown, his agent, Steven Rosen, and Patriots security chief Jeff Barnes are forced to play a different kind of defense. Brought in to find out who’s forcing Kinjo to keep looking over his shoulder, Spenser has barely gotten started when Kinjo’s second wife, Cristal, reports that his beloved son, Akira, 9, has been grabbed from her car on the way to school. Days pass with no word from the kidnappers, leaving Spenser and his trainee, Zebulon Sixkill, plenty of time to reopen the case of Cape Verde gangbanger Antonio Lima, shot two years ago in a Manhattan nightclub shortly after a scuffle with Kinjo over a waitress—a case Kinjo’s brother Ray paid Lima’s family handsomely to make go away. When a caller to a popular sports–talk radio show finally phones in a ransom demand for Akira, the $100,000 amount seems suspiciously low, and Spenser soon finds out why. His success puts him in tight with Kinjo but leaves him on the outs with the athlete's handlers and the cops. Then Kinjo takes to the airwaves himself to make a quixotic announcement that seems calculated to push the story, whose tension Atkins (Robert B. Parker’s Wonderland, 2013, etc.) has so far managed admirably, over a cliff. And it does, as the tale fizzles out in a shower of forced entries, meetings with conveniently connected mobsters, eleventh-hour twists and bang bang bang.

Two-thirds of a perfectly controlled kidnap tale, with Spenser close to his top form, crashes, burns and goes down without a trace in the end.