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24 HOURS by Greg Iles

24 HOURS

By Greg Iles

Pub Date: Aug. 7th, 2000
ISBN: 0-399-14624-5
Publisher: Putnam

A tepid thriller from bestselling Iles (The Quiet Game, 1999, etc.) in which an upscale family falls victim to a not-so-typical kidnapping masterminded by a psychopath with more than money on his mind.

Dr. Will Jennings is on his way from Mississippi to a medical meeting in New Orleans, leaving behind his loving, if somewhat resentful, wife Karen, who quit medical school when she became pregnant, and their precious, precocious five-year-old daughter, Abby. Life is a mixed bag for the doctor. He's flying his own plane to the convention where he's presenting a breakthrough anesthesia drug that could make him a very wealthy man. But he suffers from debilitating arthritis, and Abby is a juvenile diabetic who requires insulin injections. The whole house of cards comes tumbling down when the child is snatched by kidnapper extraordinaire Joe Hickey, assisted by his abused spouse, a former drug- addicted lap dancer, and his devoted, mentally challenged, 300-pound cousin Huey. The devious trio's carefully orchestrated plan, which they've refined over five previous capers, divides the story into three scenarios, each redneck villain paired with a member of the genteel Jennings family. Hickey's motto, "The kid always makes it," is endangered by Abby's insulin needs, the Type-A personalities of the Jennings clan, and the search for revenge. Should Will call in the authorities? Should he and Karen submit to the kidnappers' bizarre personal demands? How far will they go to save their daughter and still keep their self-respect? And by the way, have they missed the truly important things in life?

The clever plot generates some heat, but veteran Iles's clunky prose ("Hickey's words cut to the bone, but something more terrible struck Will like a hammer"), hackneyed psychological "insights," and tedious medical details send this thriller into a tailspin.