Posts Tagged 'Kidnapping'

The Girl Before by Rena Olson

Genre: Suspense

# of Pages: 314

Clara is shocked and frightened when a swat team bursts into her home and forcefully drags her and her daughters away.  She quickly learns that her husband is under investigation, but she doesn’t understand what for.  She knows he would be very upset with her if she talked to the police so she refuses to speak or eat until the police bring her a note in her husband’s handwriting telling her to eat.  Eventually, Clara begins to open up about her life in the hopes of helping clear her husband’s name, but in talking to her therapist she begins to wonder if that would be a good thing at all.  Throughout the book it flashes back to earlier times in her life depicting the many struggles and abusive relationships she has faced in her very young life.  Despite all she’s been through, Clara cannot come to terms with the fact that the investigators working with her believe she is actually a young girl named Diana who was kidnapped at an early age and brought into a world of lies and violence.  Is it possible she could have failed to see the danger she was in when she felt so loved and looked after?  Did she willingly participate in the crimes of her husband or was she too blind to see what was really going on?

This suspenseful story follows Clara as she struggles to learn the truth about her life, her husband, and the entire way she was raised.  Readers will quickly realize that she’s actually a part of a human trafficking ring, but she’s been so indoctrinated into the cause that she really believes the people around her care about the young girls they are raising.  As the realization of her entire life dawns on her she begins to feel the weight of the decisions she has made or at least allowed to happen in front of her.  The story uses many flashbacks to put the pieces together, which does build suspense, but may be confusing for some readers.  Characters are fully developed and engaging and it’s easy to see how Clara ended up in the predicament she is in.  Recommended for fans of mysteries such as The Girl on the Train and Gone Girl.

The Leaving by Tara Altebrando

Genre: Mystery

# of Pages:  421

On their very first day of school, six kindergartners are mysteriously abducted from school and do not surface for eleven years when they are all mysteriously dropped off with no memories and only their parents’ addresses clutched in their hands.  One of the original six, Max, does not return with the others and the realization that he hasn’t returned breaks his family even more.  His sister, Avery, decides to start investigating on her own to see if she can find out where Max is.  The others, meanwhile are struggling as well.  Scarlet comes home to a mother who has become obsessed with the idea that aliens stole her daughter and Caleb comes home in time to witness a tragedy.  They have been told repeatedly that it’s probably a good thing they can’t remember the last eleven years and the horrors they witnessed, but most of them still want to know where they have been especially since they are exhibiting knowledge in certain areas and they don’t know why.  They have missed most of their childhood and they each need to figure out how they fit into their own lives again.  Will they ever learn the truth behind their disappearance?  Where is Max?

Mystery readers will love this book because it is engaging, but also believable with many unusual facts they need to put together in order to get a general idea for what happened to them.  They know they may never know everything, but even learning the person responsible would be helpful when trying to move on.  The characters are all developed so that the reader can understand their feelings and motivations, while also understanding how hard it would be to go through something like this.  The ending is also very satisfying while not being too tidy or predictable.  Recommended.

The Couple Next Door by Shari Lapena

Genre:  Mystery Thriller

# of Pages: 308

Anne and Marco were horrified to come home and find their infant daughter missing from her crib.  When the police arrive they are surprised to learn that the couple had left their daughter alone while they went to a birthday party next door.  Anne and Marco had fought about what to do when the sitter canceled last minute, but Marco had argued that they would take the baby monitor and check on their baby every half hour.  Anne eventually relented since their neighbor, Cynthia, had made it very clear that Baby Cora was not invited.  They checked on Cora every half hour until after midnight, but when they eventually returned home they discovered the front door open and their baby gone.  Who could’ve known exactly when to strike? Could it be someone they know?  Will the kidnappers want a ransom?

This mystery thriller grabs the reader right from the beginning because Anne and Marco are so easy to identify with.  What happened to them appears to be so terrible and unexpected yet eventually the pieces start fitting together and it becomes obvious that they both have secrets.  Fans of The Girl on the Train and Harlan Coben novels will enjoy this exciting tale right until the end.

When by Victoria Laurie

when

Genre:  Mystery/Suspense

# of Pages:  327

RAC:  Yes

Maddie has been able to see numbers on everyone’s foreheads since she was a little girl, but it isn’t until her father dies suddenly that she realizes what they are:  deathdates.  After her father’s death her mother struggles with sobriety and stability and Maddie must become the caretaker and even the breadwinner when her mother strongly encourages her to give “readings” in which she tells people their death dates for money.  Maddie hates doing this because it often causes pain, but she does not know how else to help her mother cope.  After a reading with a wealthy woman asking about her sick daughter, Maddie is horrified to have to tell her that it is in fact the woman’s young son who has a quickly approaching death date.  The woman does not take Maddie’s advice and feels she is threatening her young son.  Maddie’s best friend even calls to warn her to keep a close eye on him in the hopes that his death date can change.  Instead, Maddie and her best friend become prime suspects when that little boy goes missing after school one day.  Things continue to get worse for Maddie and her best friend as more people linked to Maddie start disappearing.  Is someone trying to frame her?  Could it be someone who is close to her and knows what she can do?  How can she stop anyone else from dying?

This premise is executed really well as you see how problematic and troubling this gift has been for Maddie and her family.  Her uncle, a big shot attorney, tries his best to keep her out of jail for the suspicious disappearances that she seems to be predicting, but the evidence just keeps mounting against her.  The reader cannot help but feel connected to Maddie and feels her fear as what is left of her meager world comes crashing down around her.  The mystery itself comes to a very satisfying conclusion that will leave readers wanting more.  Recommended for fans of mystery.

 

Forgotten by Cat Patrick

Genre:  Romance/Realistic Fiction/Mystery

# of Pages:  288

RAC Book:  Yes

London suffered a traumatic incident when she was a child and as a result lost her long term memory.  She must keep notes of everything because when she goes to sleep her memory is erased and she forgets everything when she wakes up.  She does have “flashforwards” that allow her to retrieve memories from the future.  She meets a new boy at school and immediately feels a connection, but she has no memory of him in her future.  London begins having one recurring vision that terrifies her, especially when she realizes it is actually a memory from her past and not her future.  In order to understand her future she must face the past that was so painful her parents decided not to remind her once she had lost her memory.  Meanwhile, she must decide if she can trust this new boy or if he is just going to hurt her when he learns the truth about her memory issues.

Stories with characters blocking out painful memories is not new, but this story definitely puts a new twist on it.  The reader gets to put the pieces together right along with London to find out what happened to her that caused her memory to rewire itself and also as the clues slowly come out regarding London’s mysterious vision.  The story has many twists and turns and more overall character development than it first appears.  Recommended for mystery or reluctant readers.

Look Again by Lisa Scottoline

Genre:  Mystery

# of Pages:  341

RAC Book:  Yes

Ellen is a reporter who is shocked to see a picture of her son’s face on a missing child flier.  She had adopted him two years ago when he was a very sick one year old.  The adoption papers appeared to be legal, but she couldn’t shake the feeling that something was wrong.  After doing some investigating, Ellen begins to see that the pieces of her child’s past simply do not fit.  However, she has no proof that her son was unlawfully taken from his birth parents.  Does she keep quiet for fear of losing her son?  Can she live without knowing the truth about her son’s true lineage?

This thrilling mystery moves quickly from the first page, but the last third of the book really keeps the reader engaged.  Ellen’s actions are understandable and justified as she tries to find answers.  The author wrote Ellen’s emotional turmoil at the thought of losing her son in a way that anyone can understand, but especially parents.  There are a few twists and turns that make this story different from other child abduction mysteries.  Fans of mystery writers such as Harlan Coben and Mary Higgins Clark will love this story.

The Weight of Silence by Heather Gudenkauf

Genre:  Realistic Fiction

# of Pages:  373

RAC:  Yes

Calli is a seven-year-old girl who has been unable to speak since she witnessed a terrible incident years before.  Her best friend, Petra, understands her without words and they do everything together.  One morning both girls disappear from their beds and police wonder if they are together.  Meanwhile, Calli’s alcoholic and abusive father is also missing and her mother begins to fear the worst.   Can the well meaning deputy find the girls before it’s too late?

This story written by an Iowa author takes place in an Iowa town and accurately depicts the relationships people have in small town Iowa.  Each chapter follows a different character and helps the reader piece together what happened to these two girls.  The strong friendship these girls have ends up benefiting both of them in very different ways.  There are tough issues addressed such as kidnapping, alcoholism, and, abuse but the story is very engaging and will make readers want to find out what happened to these girls.  Recommended for Picoult fans.

Living Dead Girl by Elizabeth Scott

Genre:  Realistic Fiction

# of Pages:  170

RAC Book:  No

2010 Iowa High School Award Winner

“Alice” recounts the story of how she was abducted by a pedophile named Ray and forced to live with him for several years and follow his rules.  For example, Ray starves her so that she will stay little and seem like a little girl.  She considers herself dead inside and wishes he would just kill her and get it over with.  The only reason she never tries to run or tell someone is that he threatens to kill her family if she does.  When Ray suggests they look for a new little girl to live with them Alice agrees because she desperately wants to leave this situation, even if it means he will kill her.  As she starts helping him on his quest she wonders if it is really in her to subject a new child to the horrors she has been through.

This book is very detailed and graphic.  Alice’s life is beyond unimaginable and her spirit has long been crushed.  Despite the fact that there have been stories like this that end happy with a family reunion, there is a sense of hopelessness in Alice’s case like she has given up.  The content of this book is very serious and will bother many students.

Graceling by Kristin Cashore

Genre:  Fantasy

# of Pages: 471

RAC:  Yes

2010-2011 Iowa Teen Award Winner

Katsa lives in a world where some people are born with special powers called Graces.  Katsa believes her grace to be one for killing and hates herself for fulfilling the terrible tasks her King makes her do.  One day she meets a man named Po from another country who is looking for his grandfather who was kidnapped.  Katsa had already rescued the old man, but they did not want to release that information due to the fact that they still do not know who kidnapped him in the first place.  As Katsa and Po start to investigate who might want to hurt his family, they become fearful that they may have to save everyone from a corrupt king using an immoral grace.

This fantasy story was original and unique in a way that makes the reader want to keep reading.  The story contains interesting and colorful characters as well as an exciting, and at times suspenseful, plot that is full of surprises until the end.  Recommended for students and adults who like fantasy books.  The idea of the graces is interesting and lends an extra layer of intrigue to this tale that will no doubt be around for a long time.

Dirty Laundry by Daniel Ehrenhaft

dirty

Genre: Mystery/Realistic Fiction

Age Level: 14 and up

# of Pages: 229

RAC Book: yes

Carli is an actress who has just landed a role as a tough boarding school girl, which is a problem because she considers herself a “nerd.” Her agent sends her to The Winchester School, which is the boarding school where all the students who were rejected from other boarding schools go. They are called the “dirty laundry.”  Her agent’s son, FUN, is supposed to be Carli’s assistant and help her keep her undercover identity of Sheila Smith. On the first day of school a girl named Darcy goes missing and no one seems that worried about it. Carli and FUN decide to do some investigating on their own and start to worry about some of the people around them. Could some of their friends be possible kidnappers or even murderers? Or is someone setting others up to take the fall for their crimes?

This is a very lighthearted mystery in which there is a sinister plot going on, but it is very subtle and not always the focus of the story. The perspective changes from Carli to FUN throughout the story.  Both of them focus a lot on themselves and their own situations and observations of what is going on around them. Some students will feel it drags in the middle, but if they make it, will enjoy the ending. A fast and enjoyable, but fortgettable read.

The Secret Life of CeeCee Wilkes by Diane Chamberlain

Genre:  Realistic Fiction

Age Level:  14 and up

# of Pages:  522

RAC:  Yes

CeeCee Wilkes is a sixteen-year-old girl whose mother died when she was twelve.  Now she is a high school graduate and living on her own trying to support herself as a waitress.  She hopes to save enough money to go to college one day.  Her favorite regular customer, Timothy Gleason, is rich and handsome, so she is thrilled when he shows some interest in her.  Soon they are dating and she feels she is in love with him and finally has a place to belong.  When he tells her his sister is on death row for a murder that was self defense, CeeCee finds herself helping in a scheme to get her freed.  Timothy and his brother plan to kidnap the governor’s wife in order to get him to release their sister.  Meanwhile, CeeCee is supposed to watch the hostage while the negotiations go down.  What CeeCee doesn’t count on is the fact that the governor’s wife is 8 months pregnant with a high risk pregnancy.  When the stress of the situation leads her to go into labor early, CeeCee does not know what to do or where to go and the situaiton quickly escalates out of control.  Once the baby is born, CeeCee is unable to stop the bleeding and the woman dies.   CeeCee knows that her life will never be the same again and she has some very difficult decisions to make.  Will she ever see Timothy again?  Will she have to change her name?  Will she have to go to jail for her role in this crime?  What will happen to the baby?

For readers who enjoy Jodi Picoult, Anita Shreve, or similar authors this would be a good story.  It delves into the emotions and motivations of the characters while following an interesting story.  Readers will come to care about what happens to CeeCee and the baby despite the terrible circumstances that bring them together.  The ideas of taking responsibility for one’s actions and second chances are pronounced throughout the story.  The plot will keep readers thinking about justice long after finishing the book.

Little Face by Sophie Hannah

Genre: Suspense, Realistic Fiction

Age Level: 14 and up

# of pages: 310 p.

RAC Book: Yes

The story begins when Alice who has just left her two week old baby for the first time ventures out for two hours and comes home to find she does not know the baby in the crib. She believes that someone has come into her mother-in-law’s house, where her and her husband live, and snatched her baby only to replace it with another newborn. Her husband becomes angry with her as she refuses to accept that this is her baby and insists on calling the police. The police have a difficult time deciding how to proceed since no babies have been reported missing and there is a baby present at the house.

The story alternates between Alice and one of the police detectives. He is generally accepted to be a really good detective and feels that this case is not as innocent as it first appears. He does not know if he believes Alice about someone switching the babies, but believes something is amiss. His colleagues all believe Alice is crazy and suffering from depression and psychosis from her difficult delivery.

The mystery was intriguing all the way up until everything is explained.  The resolution is not as good as one would hope after such an intriguing mystery has been set up.  There are moments where Alice’s husband shows tortuous feelings toward her for casting doubt on their family. It is never fully explained why she allows him to do this to her. The ending is satisfying, but unbelievable. The details provided weave together to form a good pace and some surprises as details are revealed, but again the motivations of the characters in their actions is not always fully explained. Readers who enjoy mystery and suspense will enjoy this, but anyone who has difficulty with people undergoing very degrading and difficult situations will find it troubling.

Vanishing Act by John Feinstein

Genre:  Mystery/Sports

Age Level:  12 and up

# of Pages:  279

RAC Book: Yes

Vanishing Act follows two young reporters, Susan Carol and Stevie, whom readers might remember from Last Shot: a Final Four Mystery.  In this story, Susan Carol and Stevie are writing about the US Open.  They are staying with Susan Carol’s uncle, who is an agent.  When one of the most anticipated players vanishes between the locker room and the court complete chaos ensues. The player was originally from Russia, so her parents immediately blame the Russian mafia, but Stevie thinks that answer seems too convenient.

Susan Carol and Stevie use some creative methods for finding out information regarding their cases, but many times their plans seem plausible.  Soon Stevie becomes suspicious of Susan Carol’s uncle, which creates some tension as he is then told to find somewhere new to sleep.  This distraction, however, does not even slow these young reporters down as they try to find out the truth.

This book has all of the charm of the first and in many ways builds on the characters to create an even better mystery with many layers.  The disappearance of the tennis player is only the beginning as Susan Carol and Stevie try to find answers.  When some of the information they find is troubling or dangerous to themselves, they continue to push ahead.  Students who like to read about sports and/or mysteries will be fans of this book. 

 


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