Kidnapped (Irene Kelly Series #10)

Kidnapped (Irene Kelly Series #10)

4.0 10
by Jan Burke

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When Irene Kelly's articles profiling missing children run in the Las Piernas Express, she anticipates the renewed public interest and the deluge of phone tips and remembered clues; she even anticipates the renewed pain of the anguished parents. What she doesn't expect is that the articles will set off a murderous chain reaction -- and put her life in peril.See more details below


When Irene Kelly's articles profiling missing children run in the Las Piernas Express, she anticipates the renewed public interest and the deluge of phone tips and remembered clues; she even anticipates the renewed pain of the anguished parents. What she doesn't expect is that the articles will set off a murderous chain reaction -- and put her life in peril.

Perhaps one of the more tragic disappearances in recent Las Piernas history was that of Jenny Fletcher, just shy of her fourth birthday. The body of Jenny's father, Richard, a graphic artist, was found bludgeoned in his studio; hours later Jenny's stepbrother Mason was apprehended with the murder weapon and bloody clothing in his car. But little Jenny was never found. As the years pass, everyone assumes Jenny is dead. Everyone except her brother Caleb, who not only believes Jenny survived but steadfastly believes in Mason's innocence.

Caleb, now a graduate student studying with forensic anthropologist Ben Sheridan, works on cases for the Las Piernas Police Department. When bones are discovered at the old Sheffield estate just days after the missing-children articles appear, Caleb finds himself drawn into a case that threatens to bring personal tragedies back to the present. He has a fierce ally in reporter Irene Kelly, who will stop at nothing to solve the mysteries of his father's murder and his sister's disappearance.

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
At the start of Edgar-winner Burke's well-crafted 10th novel of suspense (after 2005's Bloodlines), sociopathic killer Cleo Smith has just murdered a graphic artist, Richard Fletcher, who was a member of a large, bizarre California family, but Smith's motive for the killing remains obscure. Five years later, Fletcher's adopted son has been wrongfully convicted of the crime, and Burke's resourceful and compassionate reporter heroine, Irene Kelly, has written a story about missing children that has prompted a host of inquiries from desperate relatives who have lost their own children. When more bodies turn up and further clues point to involvement of Fletcher family members, Kelly, aided by her police detective husband, Frank Harriman, puts her life on the line to exonerate the innocent prisoner and uncover the disturbing secrets at the heart of the Fletcher clan. The many plot twists should keep readers turning the pages, even if the windup is a little improbable. (Oct.) Copyright 2006 Reed Business Information.
Library Journal
MReporter Irene Kelly's Las Piernas Express article on missing children sets off a sequence of deadly events when body parts are discovered in a remote area and the newspaper sends Irene to get preliminary information. Are the bones those of missing three-year-old Jenny Fletcher, whose graphic artist father was found bludgeoned to death at the time of her disappearance and whose stepbrother was convicted of the crime? Although Irene no longer works on homicide stories because of her marriage to homicide detective Frank Harriman, the couple are part of a group of friends that includes other reporters and police, forensic scientists, and members of a search-and-rescue K9 squad. Everyone gets involved in the investigation, which culminates in an unexpected way. Burke's 12th book proves that an author can write a refreshingly original mystery devoid of the genre's usual trappings. Not to be missed. Burke, the founder of the Crime Lab Project and a member of the board of the California Forensic Science Institute, lives in Southern California. [See Prepub Mystery, LJ 6/1/06.] Copyright 2006 Reed Business Information.
From the Publisher
"Enthralling.... Jan Burke again shows her boundless energy in ratcheting up suspense while keeping a center of realism.... Burke's crisp writing steers the plot on a steady course and her affinity for creating believable, fully dimensional characters thrust into realistic situations succeeds multiple times in Kidnapped." — South Florida Sun-Sentinel

"A refreshingly original mystery.... not to be missed."
Library Journal (Starred Review)

"A sizzling story of betrayal, revenge, and murder....Smart and beautifully plotted."
The Globe and Mail (Toronto)

"Burke's well-crafted novel of suspense [features] her resourceful and compassionate reporter heroine, Irene Kelly.... The many plot twists should keep readers turning the pages...." — Publishers Weekly

"Fast-paced, superbly plotted." — Green Bay Press-Gazette (Wisconsin)

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Product Details

Simon & Schuster
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Irene Kelly Series , #10
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1 Tuesday, May 9 8:07 a.m. Fletcher Graphic Design Las Piernas

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.

She calmly gathered the clothing she had worn to do the job and placed it in a plastic bag, along with the trophy used as the weapon. The trophy was a heavy, curving metal shape, about ten inches in height. An award her victim, Richard Fletcher, had won for excellence as a graphic artist.

A second bag contained the hypodermic needle she had used in the first few moments of the proceedings. To this bag she added the gloves.

She placed both bags inside a large canvas duffel. This she took with her as she went back to the studio area, admiring but not touching the works in progress in the large, open room. She walked quickly past the windows (blinds closed at this hour) and into the bathroom off the back of the studio.

Richard had designed everything about this office and studio, including the full bathroom and changing area. He had needed a place where he could clean up and change clothes before meeting clients or heading home for the day. This worked admirably for her purposes as well. Taking her own soap, shampoo, and towels from the duffel, she stepped into the shower. She removed the booties, placing them in the plastic bag that held the gloves and needle. She turned on the water, unfazed by the initial coldness of it, and began to cleanse off the inevitable biological debris that resulted from the chosen method of murder. Soon the water warmed. She leaned into the hard spray.

She did not fear interruption. Richard had been a free spirit in many ways, but his days followed a set, personally defined routine. His first three hours of the workday never included any appointments, and he was known for not answering the phone during those hours. She had placed a portable locking and alarm device on the front door, just in case. She had altered it slightly — if someone should try to get past it, it wouldn't screech the kind of high-decibel alarm that would draw unwanted attention. Instead, a remote, much quieter but audible alarm would sound in her nearby bag.

She scrubbed her long, lean, and muscular body. She prided herself on her peak physical condition. Her light brown hair was no more than half an inch long anywhere on her head; she had completely depilated the rest of her body. Her breasts were small — she would readily agree that she was flat-chested, had anyone had the nerve to say so to her face. Her nails were cut very short.

She was proud of the fact that she could easily imitate a male gait or stance, and with the slightest bit of disguise could fool anyone who was not a trained and attentive observer that she was male. With almost equal ease, she could signal femininity. These were just a few of her gifts.

She contemplated the murder, trying to identify any imperfections. One of the highest priorities had been that the victim feel no pain.

He had certainly not felt the blows that killed him. The last sensation he had known while conscious was most likely bewilderment. Perhaps a little stinging at the time of the injection, but there had been so little time for Richard to react before the drug took effect, he did not register much more than surprise. And maybe a bit of dismay.

Cleo Smith frowned and silently conceded that there were moments of anxiety — he did try so hard to move toward the door and did manage to say, "Jenny." Cleo had tried to calm him, but of course, at that point, he mistrusted her. Belatedly mistrusted her.

Still, he was unable to give more than minor resistance as Cleo steered him back to the desk. A second wave of worry came over Richard just after that, but the drug took full effect — he passed out cold while trying to stand up. It was Richard's final act of courtesy — there would be no need to reposition him.

So. Anxiety, to some degree, but not pain.

Cleo had made sure the blows demolished the point of injection. There was some chance that a toxicology report would be ordered, but even if the tests included the substance she used (highly unlikely), the result would not lead anyone back to her. The clothing she had worn during the murder did not belong to her.

Cleo stepped out of the shower and dried herself, put on a pair of men's socks, then used a new set of towels — never before used by her — to wipe down every surface of the shower and anything she might have touched in here.

She dressed in a new set of male clothes. The towels went into the plastic bag with the needle, gloves, and booties. A few necessary moments were spent examining the scene, ensuring that only the appropriate evidence remained.

She checked the time. Another two hours before discovery would most likely take place. One should never, she knew, rely on everything going smoothly.

She retrieved her portable lock and alarm. One last look back at Richard. She said a silent good-bye and pulled the door shut. She locked it, using a key she had taken from Richard's key ring. The clients would not expect to find the door locked at the time of their appointment. If they became angry rather than worried, and stormed off thinking Richard had forgotten their appointment, she would gain a little more lead time.

Eventually, though, the body would be discovered.

No time to linger. She had a busy day ahead of her.

Besides, she wanted a cigarette. She was not, in general, a smoker, but murder always made her want to light up.

She was perfectly aware of what a psychiatrist might have to say about that.

Copyright © 2006 by Jan Burke

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