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A veteran cop questions his fitness for the work he's in as this action-packed, multilayered suspenser gets underway. Mack Steiner probably spends too much time pondering abstractions. The fact is, he's been on the force for 14 years, getting the job done. Moreover, he has this friend, Bank Arbaugh, who supplies enough self-confidence to cover the both of them. Bank's a paragon of a policeman, generally acknowledged as the best in the midsized Ohio city where the cronies ply their trade. He tells the world Mack's okay; and when Bank speaks, the world listens. Then one frightening, gut-wrenching night, Mack's introspection goes by the board, replaced by the compelling need to act: a 12-year-old girl is kidnaped. Or could she have just run off? Either way, the circumstances are dismally reminiscent of an earlier case, one traumatic enough to have scarred each man. The investigation gathers speed, beginning to generate some information. Instead of clarifying the nature of the crime, however, what the men learn merely obscures it. Meanwhile, Mack is feeling increasing pressure at home. The war between his daughter and his wife (her stepdaughter) has heated up, demanding his intervention--but what kind? It's also now inescapable that the missing child and his own child shared a connection. When in turn she goes missing, the pressure intensifies exponentially, and Mack and Bank find their friendship both more fragile and more complex than either had ever imagined. Holden is becoming expert at serving up the tried-and-true elements of a competent thriller (The Last Sanctuary, 1995, etc.). What gives this one distinction is the interesting commentary he has to make about male friendship--both how it works and about the way it can hurt men.

Pub Date: Jan. 7th, 1999
ISBN: 0440224748
Page count: 352pp
Publisher: Delacorte