An offbeat pair of investigators scrambles to find a kidnapped Washington Post reporter, in that proverbial race against the clock.
The title refers to a law-enforcement truism that if a hostage isn’t found within 48 hours, there’s little chance of finding him or her alive. The hostage here is ambitious young Post journalist Jane Redmond, who smells a Pulitzer in the complicated web of corruption emanating from jaded powerbroker Michael Gleason, a veteran senator. Not coincidentally, it was Preston who ruined the career of Jane’s father Tom a generation ago. Tom, in his salad days a renowned prosecutor, now drinks a lot more than he should and scrapes together a living with low-paying clients. His sidekick, both personally and professionally, is investigator Mike Tubbs, who weighs in near the 300-pound mark. (Much of their routine revolves around diners and saloons.) Abducted while jogging in Potomac Park during a rainstorm, Jane is taken to a remote cabin in the woods. The story counterpoints, in quick cuts, her efforts to escape with the far blunter efforts of Tom and Mike to find her. News of his daughter’s abduction ironically gives over-the-hill Tom a renewed energy and sense of purpose. With audacity and more than a little sadistic pleasure, Tom and Mike kidnap Gleason and torture him until he puts them on the trail of the kidnappers. While resourceful Jane tries a number of escape strategies, her would-be rescuers cut a reckless swath through Washington’s power corridors. Caught in the middle is Jane’s Deep Throat, an Armani-suited operator named Mark Allen. Will he do the right thing or cover his own . . . financial interests?
Suspense 101 from the prolific Green (The Fifth Angel, Feb. 2003, etc.): slight, swift, and moderately involving. Much of its success with readers will rest on affinity for the woebegone duo of Tom and Mike, who could use more dimension.