A former Olympic champion is put to a horrible test when someone kidnaps his teenage daughter and forces him to complete 12 tasks to set her free.
More than a decade earlier, he was Ethan “Hercules” Holt, a gold medal winner in the decathlon, but following his wife’s death, he has put glory aside and now dedicates his life to teaching classics at his alma mater and raising his daughter, Skip. His own father forced him to train relentlessly and accepted nothing but the best, and his mother, passive and colorless, never defended him from the constant criticism. Ethan tries to be a good parent and has even started dating again, but he still harbors secrets about his past and his involvement in a doping scandal that led to a teammate’s disgrace. When he comes home to find Skip missing and a note on her bed that says, “YOU’VE KEPT ME WAITING LONG ENOUGH,” Ethan plunges into his darkest nightmare: facing a kidnapper who has set up 12 labors, modeled after the classical story of Hercules, to drive Ethan to the physical and emotional breaking point as he fights for his daughter’s life. Connections to Greek mythology add a deeper element to the kidnapping plot at first, and the eventual truth about the kidnapper is quite a shocking reveal. But despite his understandable emotional turmoil, there is something flat about Ethan as a main character. In the end, the true interest belongs to the kidnapper, to Skip, and to Aretha Mizell, the feisty cop who helps Ethan survive his ordeal. But perhaps that is appropriate to a Greek story that always centered more around Hercules as “strong man” than as multifaceted protagonist.
Enough adrenaline to please fans of Dan Brown and those who appreciate thrillers with literary roots.