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Kidnapped: An Irene Kelly Novel    by Jan Burke order for
by Jan Burke
Order:  USA  Can
Simon & Schuster, 2006 (2006)
* *   Reviewed by Tim Davis

Prologue: The Fletchers of Las Piernas in Southern California are a large and usual family that overflows with adopted and foster children, and the patriarch of the family, Graydon Fletcher, is powerful and influential. Those family facts - and the effects of those facts upon everyone inside and outside the family - must always be acknowledged by anyone who deals with the Fletchers. When Richard Fletcher, one of the scion's several sons, has been brutally murdered in the office of his graphic design studio, the police seem to have very few leads in their case. Then Richard's four-year old daughter Jenny disappears. Shortly, though, the police discover incontrovertible evidence that leads to a swift and certain prosecution: Mason Fletcher, Richard's son, is found guilty of murdering his father and sister - although Jenny's body was never found - and Mason is sent away to prison.

Now five years later, when the action of Kidnapped begins in earnest, Irene Kelly, through a series of bizarre twists of fate, will find herself drawn into the mystery surrounding Richard Fletcher's murder, Jenny Fletcher's disappearance, and Mason Fletcher's arrest and conviction.

Irene works as a reporter for the Las Piernas News Express, and she has recently become interested in the alarming number of kidnappings in the country; the Justice Department estimates that over 750,000 American children are missing, more than 2100 children are kidnapped every day in the United States, and many of those cases are never solved. However, when the body of a presumed kidnapper, Gerald Serre, is discovered near Las Piernas, Irene quickly senses that something is terribly wrong with the facts of the case. The forensic evidence and the timelines in the Serre case just don't add up. By happenstance, Caleb Fletcher, Mason's brother, is working as an assistant to the forensic anthropologist assigned to the Serre case, and he soon becomes acquainted with the irrepressible and intuitive reporter. And then, by coincidence, one of the dog handlers who had been helping - or perhaps interfering - with the search of the Serre murder scene is herself murdered.

Well, as far as Irene is concerned, there are now entirely too many coincidences occurring, so - loyally supported if not always enthusiastically encouraged by her husband, homicide detective Frank Harriman - Irene uses all of her investigative skills to piece together the facts surrounding the recent two murders and the growing evidence about Jenny Fletcher's disappearance five years ago, which now seems to be connected to the Serre case. Soon, though, the dangers intensify and Irene becomes a murder target herself!

Fast-paced, well-plotted, and dominated by provocative themes and carefully developed characterizations, Kidnapped is another of Jan Burke's sure-fire mysteries. Burke has a reputation for being one of the greatest mystery novelists writing today. Kidnapped will simply reinforce that reputation. Kidnapped will keep you guessing until the very end when the dark and dangerous secrets are finally revealed. Enjoy!

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