Thursday, 3 July 2008

Kidnapped - Jan Burke

This is the latest in the Irene Kelly mysteries, which began several years ago with Goodnight, Irene. I have read most of them, and I adore Irene - a newspaper journalist - and her husband Frank, a homicide detective. They have such a believable relationship that it centers all the books with love and traditional values - a rarity today, where most PI's, policemen, and other heroes/heroines of mystery novels are loners. Even Miss Marple lives alone! But instead of weakening these novels, Irene and Frank's relationship strengthens them, and it is refreshing to see a loving couple in the world of mysteries. There is a reason this book is under my 888 Challenge: Latest book by a favourite author!

This is not to say that bad things don't happen! Irene has been shot at, stranded with killers, stalked, and almost killed numerous times. She is clever, resourceful, loyal, and honest. She has a weakness for dogs, strays, children and her husband, and for finding the truth. Irene is always saddened by murder, by the victims and the survivors left behind. Irene searches for the truth, and this is what leads her into so much trouble. She has a gut instinct that has saved her life in the past, and in this book, saves the lives of some special characters.

I find reading about kidnapped - or missing - children gut-wrenching, even in novels. I wasn't sure what to expect with this book, and I was beyond pleasantly surprised - I was enthralled from the opening page: Cleo Smith firmly believed that neatness counted, especially if you were going to get away with murder. Which was why she now stood completely naked, save for a pair of plastic booties and a pair of thin rubber gloves, in the office of the man she had just killed. It is gripping, and I read it over three days - last night I was too tired to read, I kept falling asleep on the couch, or I would have read it much faster - and tonight I hurried home on my walk, so I could read more quickly when I got home. Have you had a book like that recently, that you could hardly put down and hardly wait to get back to again? I've enjoyed most of the books I've read this year, but only a few have made me anxious and grumpy when I've had to put the book down. This was one of them.

The bulk of the mystery is over 11 days, although the original murder occurs a few years before. This is a common practice in the Kelly mysteries, they go at break-neck pace as she stumbles onto crime, or is asked to investigate disappearances. In this book, she is writing a story on missing children, and this leads to the main part of the mystery - 4 kidnapped children, all from different homes and areas. They are special children, because they were spotted early on as being gifted. And how the two oldest use their advanced learning skills is part of the charm of this book. Yes, charm, not a word used often in a mystery! And before you think this is cosy, or fun, it's not. There are murders - plenty, a chilling killer - and Jan Burke does these so well, I'm still not over the killer in Bones,which had me actually scared at one point, not something I often feel reading a mystery! She does bone-chilling killers. Cleo in this book does not disappoint. And the ending is so well-written that I was almost breathless as I turned the pages faster and faster.

This was very satisfying and well-written. If you are looking for a mystery that you can't put down, this is one to read.


Anonymous said...

Another writer I haven't come across before. I've added her to the list of authors I will investigate shortly, the library having come up trumps with seven new books today that I must get through as other borrowers are waiting for them.

Jan Burke said...

Thank you for the kind words about my work!

Jan Burke

Susan said...

table talk: I hope you can find them over there! they really are good mysteries, and I love the characters. what goodies did the library have for you?

jan: I can't tell you how thrilled I am you stopped by! I know you did way back on the original list for the 888 challenge, but I only found out months later so I thought it was too late to leave a reply. Now I can, though. Thank you! And I don't suppose you know when the next Irene Kelly book is coming out? And can I confess that I think I have a little crush on Frank?

Anonymous said...

Susan, I've written about some of the goodies over on the blog, and others that are in the pipeline. It's a good job that we're just reaching that period when things close down for the summer. I may now have time to read them all!

Susan said...

table talk - I'll come check it out, I love to see piles of books other people want to read!!