Veteran suspense-monger Saul (Midnight Voices, 2002, etc.) manages to mess up the foolproof story of a family whose teenaged daughter is kidnapped.
The strain of Steve Marshall’s backbreaking commute to his law firm means that his family’s got to pull up stakes from Camden Green, on Long Island’s North Shore. But although his wife Kara gamely makes the rounds of Manhattan brownstones, their daughter Lindsay refuses to accept the inevitable. She’s been waiting to hear if she’ll be named head cheerleader for her senior year, and she’s not about to leave her squad, her friends and the only world she knows. Although Saul spends forever maundering over the Marshalls’ squabbles, they’re small potatoes compared to the main course. A madman who’s already sneaked into Patrick Shields’s house, burned it down and left his wife and two daughters dead now has his eye on Lindsay. Taking advantage of that most innocuous of all social occasions, the realtor-sponsored open house, he strolls into the Marshalls’ home not once but twice, first to snoop around and take a souvenir, then to snatch Lindsay. Numb Steve alternates between despair and denial (he’s soon back at work), and Kara works feverishly to mobilize the neighborhood. But stolid Sgt. Andrew Grant is convinced that unhappy Lindsay’s simply run away. Wrong. She’s shackled in the basement dungeon of the man the press will soon be calling “Open House Ozzie,” and she’s not the only one. Fortunately for readers with weak hearts, her captor is so literal-minded in his psychosis that the longer he toys with his captives, the less menacing he becomes. There’ll be more violence, more toothless threats (“Drink, or you might die too soon”) and of course more casualties, but nothing involving anybody you care about.
Just the thing for readers who think there’s nothing worse than trying to sell your house in the suburbs.