Black-market adoption ring kidnaps a baby boy and nearly kills the gentle young woman who tries to stop them—in a first novel by short-story author George (The Man in the Buick, 1999).
Leaving the downtown Pittsburgh office of her marriage therapist, numb with grief and shock after another disastrous session with her ought-to-be-ex-husband, Marina Benedict runs into a man holding a four-month-old boy. Intuitively aware that something isn't right, she strikes up a conversation and has her impression confirmed by the man's odd answers. Fearing for the child's safety, she follows them to a bleak, deserted building, where she’s captured and roughed up by the stranger and his accomplice. Fragments of the talk she overhears fill in some details: the pair kidnapped the boy on impulse when his mother left him unattended for a moment, but TV reports inform them that he is the son of rookie Pirates pitcher Ryan Graves, and now they plan to take the infant out of state. Before Marina can learn more, she’s bound and gagged, shot in the head, and left for dead. Found by Richard Christie, the rugged detective investigating the kidnapping, she can tell him almost nothing. Graves hides Marina in a safe house, but one of the kidnappers comes back to stalk her. He belongs to a black-market baby ring, we learn, and he’s determined to avoid taking the fall for this screw-up. The FBI and the police work night and day to solve the case and find the missing child, but there are few leads. Readers, however, know that a shady, two-bit lawyer has arranged an “adoption” for upscale couple Steve and Valerie Emmons; he handed over Baby Graves at a clandestine meeting in the middle of the night, and they asked no questions. The suspense comes from wondering not whodunit but how the indefatigable Christie will finally nab them all.
A gripping thriller with real emotional power and remarkably subtle characterization.