A Georgia woman searches for her kidnapped hubby, especially when the crime-fighting secret organization he works for isn’t much help in Chaput’s (Savannah Sleuth, 2017) thriller.
Patricia Falcon worries when her lawyer husband, Trey, doesn’t come home one night. This escalates to panic when she wakes up to find a rattlesnake in her bed. Bodyguard Simon takes care of the reptile, which has a ring—Trey’s—attached to it, verifying that someone has abducted Patricia’s husband. Trey belongs to the Cotton Coalition, a covert group dedicated to keeping organized crime out of Savannah. This much Patricia knows, but the Coalition is mum on the crime boss it’s currently targeting. In fact, believing that it knows the best way to rescue Trey, the group is telling Patricia very little. As she has received no ransom demand, she hunts for the kidnappers, with assistance from Simon. This ultimately links her to at least one murder, a dastardly individual looking to establish a prostitution business, and an iffy search for a lost relic. Patricia learns whoever has Trey wants something rarer than money, and if she can’t secure it in a reasonable time, both she and her spouse could be in even graver danger. Chaput’s novel generates an impressive amount of suspense. Readers, for one, don’t initially know who’s taken Trey or if he’s even alive. These items are clarified well before the end, but the novel aptly shifts to staunch Patricia, whose determination to save Trey never wavers, despite having few resources. The persistent tempo is courtesy of a bevy of supporting characters and witty one-liners (a grubby biker bar is “the wrong place to wear a little L.L. Bean shirt”). The occasional character and subplot fall by the wayside, however, like Detective Jackson and a homicide he’s investigating; the narrative takes time to develop both before unceremoniously dropping them.
A dense, engrossing tale that functions best when centering on the formidable female protagonist.