Kidnapped (Irene Kelly Series #10)by Jan Burke
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./i>… 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.
"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)
Read an Excerpt
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
Meet the Author
Jan Burke is the author of a dozen novels and a collection of short stories. She is the founder of the Crime Lab Project and is a member of the board of the California Forensic Science Institute. She lives in Southern California with her husband and two dogs. Learn more about her at JanBurke.com.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
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After reading many of Jan Burke's books I've come to realize that they are very similar in theme and plot. Although they are good books, they are somewhat predictable and could be boring. This book was easy to read and I finished it in 4 days.
Life's short and there are so many good books that if a story doesn't grab me by the first chapter, it's just put aside. Edgar Award winning author Burke didn't need a chapter - just two pages - actually opening lines: '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.' With 'Kidnapped,' her tenth suspense novel, Jan Burke has outdone herself. After the murder and any telltale traces of evidence have been removed, the story flashes back to the fictional California town of Las Piernas and the Fletchers, outstanding citizens all. They're a large family, powerful, led by patriarch Graydon Fletcher after whom an exclusive private school has been named. He seems to be a model citizen, so concerned for the care of the young that he and his wife have adopted 21 children in all. However, every family has one they call a black sheep and, in the Fletcher's case, it would be Richard, an artist. He doesn't buy into the pattern drawn for the whole family and refuses to let his children tow the patriarchal line. Death comes too soon to him - he's found murdered in his studio. His three-year-old daughter, Jenny is missing as is his stepson, Mason. It only takes hours for the police to locate Mason as he has trashed his car in the San Bernardino mountains. With the murder weapon found in his car, Mason is convicted of killing his stepfather, Richard, and little Jenny. Only Caleb, his older brother believes he is innocent. Five years later Caleb is working in forensic science, and has been sent to study recently found remains - a puzzler as the deceased is supposedly hiding somewhere with the son he kidnapped several years ago. At about this same time reporter Irene Kelly has written an article about the number of child snatchings by relatives in Las Piernas, and she is sent to the site where Caleb is working. As it happens there is also new evidence about Jenny's disappearance. Someone will stop at nothing to make sure that Kelly and Caleb never discover the truth. Those who enjoy their mysteries with plot twists and dashes of forensic science will sit up all night turning the pages of 'Kidnapped.' - Gail Cooke
Five years ago Richard Fletcher was murdered, his head bashed in to disguise a bullet wound and his daughter Jenny disappeared. Jenny¿s brother Mason was found in the desert with drugs in his system and the murder weapon and bloody clothes in the back of his car. He was tried and convicted for the murder of his father and the kidnapping of Jenny. He was given life without parole but his brother Caleb believes his sibling is innocent. His mother remarries Richard¿s brother Nelson who has loved her for a lifetime.--------------------------- In the present Las Piernas News Express reporter Irene Kelley has written a story on missing children. She receives a multitude of calls from grieving parents including a heartbreaking one from Blade Ives who was married to former Express reporter Bonnie Crews. She also covers the story of a body being found by a cadaver dog belong to Sheila Polson, another Fletcher. When Irene visits Sheila at her home, she finds her murdered and sees a car driving away. As Irene tries to connect the dots that link the murders of Shelia and Richard, Jenny¿s disappearance and the buried body her life is in danger from someone who will kill to keep certain secrets buried.--------------------- Anytime Jan Burke writes an Irene Kelly mystery it is a time for rejoicing. Ms. Burk¿s novels continual back and forth moves from the third person point of view to the first and should be jolting but instead seems effortless as readers don¿t notice due in part to the author¿s creative style. Great characterizations unexpected twists and plenty of surprises pull the audience deep into the storyline and keep them there until they finish the book. Kidnapped is a fascinating work, deserving of an Edgar nomination.--------------- Harriet Klausner
Should i get it????????