SAVING SOPHIE by Ronald H. Balson


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A Chicago lawyer resorts to embezzlement and negotiation with terrorists after his daughter is kidnapped.

When Jack Sommers, a partner with the prestigious Chicago law firm Jenkins & Fairchild, marries concert pianist Alina against the wishes of her father, Arif al-Zahani, a prominent Palestinian physician, intolerant in-laws will soon be the least of his problems. After visiting her mother in Hebron, Alina returns to Chicago and shortly thereafter dies of a sudden illness; Alina’s parents sue Sommers for custody of their sole grandchild, 6-year-old Sophie, in whom up to this point al-Zahani has shown no interest. They lose the custody battle but win visitation rights, and it appears that reconciliation is in the offing—then Sophie disappears. Sommers, head counsel on a deal to sell a client’s company, Kelsen Manufacturing, for $300 million, diverts $88 million of funds owed to the company’s owner , then escapes incognito to Hawaii to await word from the shadowy miscreants who have promised to help him ransom Sophie with the misappropriated millions. Meanwhile, Sophie is being raised as a Muslim in al-Zahani’s home while the good doctor, who moonlights as the head of a Palestinian splinter group, the Sons of Canaan, plans a massive terror attack on Israel. It soon becomes clear, not as gradually as a truly suspenseful thriller requires, that the attack will involve germ warfare. It’s also clear early on that Dr. al-Zahani has no intention of returning Sophie for any price. While suing Jenkins et al. for malpractice, Kelsen seems to have traded manufacturing for fixing NCAA basketball games with the help of Russian mobsters. Is there a vast conspiracy afoot that has nothing to do with the peace process, the Russian underworld, or any of the other massive red herrings swimming ponderously by? After wading through lengthy chunks of superfluous background exposition, including trial and deposition transcripts, readers may not care how the puzzle is ultimately resolved.

Complex where it should be simple and vice versa.

Pub Date: Sept. 15th, 2015
ISBN: 978-1-250-06585-8
Page count: 432pp
Publisher: St. Martin's Griffin
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15th, 2015


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