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by Lee VanceDonald A. Davis

Pub Date: Aug. 5th, 2010
ISBN: 978-0-307-26977-5
Publisher: Knopf

An advisor to hedge-fund traders learns that the disappearance of his 12-year-old son is linked to international terrorism in this often colorless, disappointing thriller.

Vance (Restitution, 2007) begins his sophomore effort with a haunting prologue. On a cold afternoon in 2003, three men kidnap Kyle Wallace, a 12-year-old boy. As they pull him off Riverside Drive in Manhattan, the youth’s cap goes “tumbling down the mouth of a storm drain…never to be seen again.” The opening’s swiftly built tension dissipates as Vance jumps ahead seven years, shifting to the first-person narrative of the boy’s father, Mark Wallace. Wallace’s knowledge of the politics of international-energy supplies has made him a successful Wall Street seer. At the moment he is confronting a series of events that follow in swift succession. First, in the Baltic Sea, terrorists explode a pipeline that was to deliver natural gas from Russia to Germany. Then, Theresa Roxas, “a Latin Audrey Hepburn playing a Wharton business school grad,” hands Wallace an iPod loaded with files that reveal the truth about how much oil the Saudis possess (more than they let on). Wallace next meets with a militant U.S. senator, who seems aware of the information Roxas passed on to Wallace, as does hedge-fund player Alex Coleman, a troubled friend of Wallace’s, who later dies in a bathtub, suspiciously. As for Wallace’s missing son, NYPD detective Reggie Kinnard periodically checks in with new developments in the case and, predictably, Wallace’s complex work (often explained in dialogue laden with text book exposition) appears to have played a part in the boy’s disappearance. Wallace’s wife and daughter, who, like Wallace, remain rather two-dimensional, arrive on the scene to learn what happened to Kyle. The answer comes much sooner than expected, setting the final third of the story adrift.

Details of international politics and technology overwhelm a potentially gripping family tale.