Deaver takes a break from his Lincoln Rhyme blockbusters (The Empty Chair, p. 254) for a kidnapping story that packs just as much suspense but a lot fewer moving parts.
For a young woman of 17, Megan McCall’s had a surprisingly troubled life: her parents’ divorce when she was two, her father’s remoteness, her mother’s string of lovers, her own sexual acting-out, and now a dangerous stunt that’s won her a round of court-ordered therapy. But all these traumas are chump change compared to the trouble she falls headlong into when “Dr. Bill Peters,” the handsome, empathetic charmer substituting for her usual therapist, turns out to be Dr. Aaron Matthews, a sociopathic psychiatrist who tricks Megan into writing defiant notes to her estranged parents, drugs her, dumps her into the trunk of her car, and drives off on the first leg of an elaborate abduction plan. As usual in Deaver’s thrillers, the good guys have plenty of resources—the bulldog tenacity of Megan’s forbidden boyfriend Joshua LeFevre, the immediate suspicion of her hotshot lawyer father Tate Collier that something’s not quite right about her running away, Tate’s friendship with a hardworking Fairfax County detective, the witnesses who know Matthews was stalking Megan—but Matthews has a fiendish bag of tricks to neutralize them all. Keeping two steps ahead of his pursuers, he locks Megan in a cell in an abandoned mental hospital, where she tries to elude her abductor’s retarded son Peter as she’s wondering why somebody would have done this to her. Meantime, back in the real world, Peter’s father toys with his pitifully overmatched adversaries on his trail, leaving them not only routed but ruined or dead, till the final showdown reveals the inevitable one secret too many.
Scorchingly one-dimensional: a ruthlessly efficient formula thriller with nary an ounce of thought on its bones.