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RANSOM by Danielle Steel

RANSOM

By Danielle Steel

Pub Date: March 2nd, 2004
ISBN: 0-385-33632-2
Publisher: Delacorte

Smooth ex-con kidnaps son of bankrupt dot-com entrepreneur.

No one knows that billionaire Allan Barnes lost all his money in the high-tech collapse—his widow, Fernanda, makes sure of that. A devoted mother and a simple soul at heart, she hopes to keep up appearances for the sake of her three darling children, Will, Ashley, and Sam. Fernanda never really wanted to be rich, anyway, or move from the family’s modest Palo Alto home. Fame and fortune seem shallow and silly now, ever since shaky deals and staggering debt devoured Allan’s empire. The whole truth may never be known—his body simply washed up in Mexico. His suspicious death is under investigation by his insurance company, and she wants to sell their last remaining asset, a palatial San Francisco mansion. Enter Peter Morgan, a socially connected, charming Harvard MBA just paroled after a conviction for cocaine dealing. Gosh, he can’t even get a job as a dishwasher. A nefarious acquaintance, Philip Addison, offers Peter a deal of sorts: kidnap one of the Barnes children for an immense ransom. Addison is $30 million in debt, and the villainous Colombians whose money’s he’s been laundering for years are twirling their mustaches and making sinister noises. What’s an ex-con to do? Why, accept Addison’s deal, of course, and enlist the assistance of fellow former jailbirds. A lackluster chase unfolds at a snail’s pace, complete with a kind but tough detective, Chinese-American Ted Lee, and mom Fernanda in a swiped police uniform at the finale to rescue brave little Sam.

Show-and-tell suspenser from Steel, heavily freighted with clumsy exposition. An afterthought romance for Lee and Fernanda is chilly and utterly unconvincing.