McBain takes a week away from the 87th Precinct (Hark!, p. 607) for a kidnapping in Florida without Matthew Hope or any of his regulars.
Alice Glendenning is just trying to hang on till the life-insurance check comes. In the eight months since her stockbroker husband Eddie drowned in the Gulf, the onetime film student has turned herself into a realtor, though she has yet to close a single sale, and is waiting patiently for her eight-year-old son, who hasn’t said a word since Eddie’s death, to start talking again. Now she’s afraid she may have missed her chance for good. Jamie and Ashley, his ten-year-old sister, have been abducted by a black woman and a blond accomplice. And Alice’s bank account is $247,000 short of the quarter-mil ransom demand. Although she doesn’t breathe a word to the law, her housekeeper isn’t nearly so circumspect, and before long the Port October Police and the FBI are camping inside her house. So are Rafe Matthews, her shiftless brother-in-law; Jennifer Redding, the twit whose car broke Alice’s ankle; and Charlie Hobbs, her only real friend. In fact, Alice, who’s felt utterly alone since Eddie’s death, finds that she has just enough friends and neighbors to drive her crazy.
It’s pure pleasure watching all these meddling well-wishers fall into their appointed places in McBain’s well-oiled plot. The procedural king makes the whole caper look so easy you wonder why all suspense novels aren’t this slick.