THE PIPER by Ben Miller


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A special division of the FBI scours the Massachusetts area for an abductor of infants in this sequel.

FBI Special Agent Jeff Pine of the Boston branch has made little headway with the kidnapping of 10-week-old Portia Stiles. Following a second infant abduction with the same M.O., Special Agent Jackson Byrne and the Child Abduction and Serial Murder Investigative Resource Center are on the case. The CASMIRC team gathers the few available clues: An individual had tasered the mothers, who subsequently supplied scant details other than hearing a voice calling out, “Hey.” Jack gets some insight into the investigation from the currently incarcerated Playground Predator, a serial killer who is the subject of Jack’s book in progress and who had kidnapped the fed’s wife and son. The murderer’s upcoming trial is rattling the families of his victims, who want to see justice served, even if they have to mete it out themselves. CASMIRC’s case, meanwhile, is shaken by a third abduction, one that ends with the baby’s mother dead rather than tasered. A modified M.O. could signify the perp’s escalation or a copycat, either scenario giving the feds further incentive to stop the kidnapper/killer. Miller’s (A Bustle in the Hedgerow, 2013) story is loaded with characters; many are returnees from his preceding novel but with ample context for new readers. Characterizations are robust, in line with the sequel’s overall sense of simmering violence. The stepfather of a Playground Predator victim, for example, sits in his study with the “earthy fragrance of oak” before removing a .38 pistol from his desk drawer. The narrative likewise implies much of the brutality: Not every abduction/tasering is shown, and even a physical confrontation near the end is not drawn out. A couple of plot turns are predictable, but Miller knows how to sustain the tension until the next round of surprises—with some twists involving all those characters’ unresolved issues regarding the Playground Predator.

A taut, suspenseful thriller; a third outing for the agent and his team would surely be welcome.

Pub Date: June 24th, 2017
ISBN: 978-1-5404-7091-1
Page count: 310pp
Publisher: Krac Publishing
Program: Kirkus Indie
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 15th, 2018


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