Criminals seek revenge on an investigative journalist in Ferrendelli’s (The Friday Edition, 2013) sequel thriller.
Late one night, thugs kidnap reporter Samantha Church and her mentor and publisher, Wilson Cole; a few days later, they release her, but keep Wilson captive. As Sam works with a few trusted co-workers to find him, she also tries to rebuild her relationship with her 9-year-old daughter, April, who lives in another state with her paternal grandmother following the events of the previous novel. As the kidnappers start making contact with Sam via recordings, emails and mysterious packages, she realizes that their overall plan is to make her suffer by harming the people she cares about—perhaps even her daughter. This thriller’s main characters are all well-drawn; Sam, Wilson, April, the grandmother and others all have distinct personality traits that make them each intriguing in their own ways. Samantha’s stepfather, Howard, is a particularly likable character who could carry his own novel. The villains are a bit clichéd, however, and the narrative contains a lot of filler that doesn’t move the plot along; for example, Samantha writes long, rambling letters to her daughter that recap things readers already know, which slows the action. (The letters also contain a lot of potentially inappropriate information for a child so young: “I woke up in his arms the next morning, late for work. But I didn’t mind.”) It takes many chapters before Samantha learns that it may be possible to track an anonymous email’s source—something an investigative reporter should already know. Additionally, the story’s time period is muddled; the kidnappers send recordings on cassette tapes, and cassette players are readily available, yet Samantha buys plane tickets online and frequently uses email. When the action does get going, however, it’s explosive, with exciting fight scenes and realistic character reactions.
A crime tale with strong characters that might have benefited from tighter storytelling.