Having loved this author’s earlier series featuring Det. Archie Sheridan/Gretchen Lowell, I couldn’t wait to read this book, the first in a new series, and I have to say it did not disappoint. Much as those earlier books, this one is not for the faint of heart, I must add. But it is terrific.
The protagonist is Kit (“Kick”) Lannigan, a victim of child abduction/pedophilia, rescued ten years earlier when she was eleven years old in a slam-bang opening. She now obsesses over the rescue of other abducted children. A recent and mysterious ally in this quest is John Bishop, who appears in her life without much explanation other than that he was a former weapons dealer, and knows people in high and influential places. Kick, however, soon comes to think of him as “clearly some sort of unreliable psychopath.”
Obviously still suffering from PTSD, among other things Kick keeps a list of self-destructive behavior she needed to work out, which she keeps in a “worry book” that is always with her. She has nothing but contempt for those, like her biological mother, who feed off her situation, having already written a book and made several TV appearances
The author, inspired by the horrific real-life tales of women like Elizabeth Smart and Jaycee Dugard, this fictionalized story of the horrors inflicted on such children induces true schadenfreude, where one is afraid to read further, but at the same time cannot turn the pages quickly enough. The one word used most often in the reviews of this novel is “compelling,” and I cannot disagree.
Kick is truly lethal, trained as a marksman, lock picker, escape artist and bomb maker, has mastered martial arts, boxing and knife throwing. She prides herself in knowing four ways to kill someone with a jacket and “knew 573 ways to take someone to the ground with her left hand alone.” When two youngsters are abducted in the same Washington State area within a three-week period, Kick, with Bishop’s assistance, vows to find and rescue them before they are sold or killed, two of the likelier outcomes. The title derives from a Bruce Lee quote: “I fear not the man who has practiced 10,000 kicks once, but I fear the man who practiced one kick 10,000 times.” Highly recommended.