How many things can go wrong when you swap homes with a couple in the world’s most civilized city? Quite a few, it turns out.
SoftPac exec Brad Graves wanted his wife to stay behind when he flew off to London on an extended business trip. But Nicole, half-suspecting that Brad’s assistant, Brenda Ferraro, has been assisting him under the covers, insisted on leaving her job as office manager for an LA law firm to accompany him and even found a couple willing to swap houses: financial consultant Frederick Lowry and his wife, Muriel, an American expatriate. From the minute their flight touches down, nothing goes right. One of Nicole’s bags gets lost at Heathrow. Hours after they let themselves into the Lowrys’ place in Chiswick and Brad takes off, an intruder locks Nicole in the bathroom and opens the Lowrys’ safe. Nicole’s visit to the National Gallery with home-care nurse Alice McConnehy, the Lowrys’ tenant, ends abruptly when a pair of men who’ve eavesdropped on the women’s lunch conversation threaten her, evidently under the impression that she’s Muriel Lowry. Unlike so many threats made to damsels in distress, this one is fulfilled in record time when a bomb blows up the Graves’ car moments after Nicole steps out of it. And all these traumas are only preliminaries to the main event: Nicole’s kidnapping by a pair of thugs whose boss, posh drug trafficker Alexander Hayes, demands in courteous but implacable terms that Freddy Lowry, who’s vanished into thin air, owes him a great deal of money that he really can’t afford to lose.
Boyarsky’s first novel, as full of page-by-page surprises as it is predictable in its larger outlines, puts its sorely tried heroine through every peril in the book before leaving her to conclude: “Oh, yes, she would be back.”