St. Louis Homicide Lt. George Hastings (The Betrayers, 2007) takes on a gang of kidnappers dedicated to a noble political cause: collecting a $2 million ransom.
As she’s leaving attorney Sam Fisher’s Christmas party in the company of Fisher’s new associate, Tom Myers, Cordelia Penmark, a student whose father is a fabulously wealthy software developer, is abducted. Her date, even less lucky, is shot dead. It’s obvious that the kidnappers, for all their radical left-wing talk both among themselves and to Eugene Penmark, mean business. Their ransom demand brings in the FBI, but the murder keeps the SLPD on the case. To the obligatory complications of law-enforcement turf wars, Penmark’s dysfunctional family and Hastings’s own domestic problems, Hunt adds a criminal gang wavering in their devotion to any principle beyond the cash nexus. Long before the high-casualty last act, it’s a tossup whether the gang will self-destruct before the law closes in on them. Yet Hunt sets his plot in motion with such quick, sure strokes and sketches even minor characters with such authority that he actually has you believing this familiar tale is new.
Unremarkably plotted, but the unobtrusively functional writing is pure pleasure.