THE GUARDIAN by Bill Eidson


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 An ex-con's pen pals help him free his young niece from her kidnappers in a gritty beat-the-clock third thriller from Eidson (Dangerous Waters, 1991, etc.). In a slam-bang opening, a man/woman team of masked bandits gun down the owner of a convenience store outside Boston and, seemingly on the spur of the moment, take a nine-year-old girl with them when they flee. Desperate to recover their daughter Janine, Greg and Beth Stearns heed the warning of her abductors not to involve the police. Greg nonetheless calls in his brother Ross (a prodigal son who spent five years behind bars on dubious drug-running charges), and the two start trying to meet the $500,000 ransom demand. With Greg's business near bankruptcy and Ross out of work, their only means of raising big money is a piece of undeveloped coastal property on the North Shore of Massachusetts. Ross checks with a local Mafioso who makes an unacceptably low bid but assists him in other ways. Under a tight deadline, the brothers finally sell to a shady realtor who says he can come up with $700,000 in cash on short notice. The first attempt at an exchange goes wrong, and Greg dies in a shootout. Ross stoically buries him in the family's oceanside plot, then begins tapping prison and underworld contacts in an effort to identify the pair who snatched Janine. As it becomes clearer that they weren't acting on their own, however, the kidnappers also become increasingly erratic. Although gaining ground on his quarry, Ross is now concerned enough about Janine's safety to bring in the cops and FBI. He learns the disturbing truth about the plot in a climactic confrontation that brings unsuspected enemies of the Stearns clan into the open and adds three villains to an already high body count. A slick, notably violent entertainment that cuts to the chase at every opportunity.

Pub Date: Nov. 17th, 1996
ISBN: 0-312-86115-X
Page count: 288pp
Publisher: Forge
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 15th, 1996


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