The safe return of a kidnapped child hinges on her aid-worker father, whose international ties might not be as altruistic as they first appear.
When a note appears in Nancy Hardman’s suburban London gym locker warning her that her 4-year-old, Beth, has been kidnapped, she thinks it’s a sick joke. But when she goes home and finds Beth and the Polish nanny, Tiggi, gone, Nancy knows it’s for real. Instructed not to call the police but to alert her husband, Michael, a charity worker in Africa, she calls Cruxys Solutions, the number Michael left for her in case of emergencies. The shadowy firm—they’re like an insurance agency “only we sort out situations, we don’t pay out claims”—sends Ruth Gonzalez, an ex-copper, and Andy Vaslik, an American kidnapping specialist with former ties to the Department of Homeland Security, to investigate. From the start, the pair senses something isn’t right: Nancy is too calm, and her claim that Michael is in an unknown corner of Africa working for an unknown charity organization doesn’t track. Magson (Close Quarters, 2015, etc.) does an able job setting up the interlocking world of international espionage and the global war on terror—everyone from Mossad to al-Qaida might be involved!—but Nancy is at best a caricature of a frantic mother who refuses to believe her husband is anything other than a saint, and Beth might as well be a doll for all the empathy she generates on the page.
What’s most compelling here is not what’s lost but who’s been sent in to find it: Gonzalez and Vaslik make an appealingly mismatched investigative unit.