HELP ME PLEASE by Barbara D’Amato


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D’Amato’s latest report from the Chicago Police Department (Good Cop, Bad Cop, 1998, etc.) focuses on a fiendishly clever crime: the kidnaping of a child. In the moment her parents are distracted, three-year-old Danielle Gaston is spirited from Holy Name Cathedral by a bogus priest. The case brings Polly Kelly, Deputy Chief of Detectives for Chicago North, to instant attention, because Danni’s mother is country-music star Maggie McKittredge, and her father is Senator Neal Gaston. And after some anxious pangs toward the beginning, Polly’s increasingly convinced the child is still in Chicago—probably in the heart of the crowded Gold Coast. But can the thousand cops beating the bushes for Danni find her before she starves to death? Not only Polly but all the world can count the hours till Danni will die, because D’Amato, displaying the same fascination with computers that fueled Killer.App (1996), has updated her old-fashioned plot with a chilling new twist: The kidnappers place a digital camera in the bare, locked room where they’re keeping Danni and put her live, real-time image on the Net at . So Polly can watch; Polly’s clinically depressed mother, who’s moved in with her just in time to have Polly camp out in her office, can watch; and anybody with a TV can watch CNN around the clock as the unwitting Danni’s movements grow ever weaker. D‘Amato shows a no-nonsense authority in laying out the myriad details of a police dragnet, and she endows her villains—the crew of imprisoned cybertyrant Johnnie Raft, who thinks it’s about time smart people were running the world—with enough savvy to stay one step ahead of it. But her determination to keep her last card hidden leads her to a surprise that will have a lot of readers pursing their lips in disbelief. For most of the ride, though, the case purrs along with just enough edge to the thrills to make this a tougher complement to the author’s Cat Marsala mysteries.

Pub Date: Oct. 1st, 1999
ISBN: 0-312-86563-5
Page count: 336pp
Publisher: Forge
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 15th, 1999


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