Missing Max

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Overview

When baby Max is kidnapped during Mardi Gras, Jane and Kyle Madison’s life falls apart. What their daughter, Melanie, does next is unthinkable.

Max vanished into thin air while in the care of his teenage sister, Melanie. Six months later, the family is a shadow of its former self: Melanie blames herself and is acting out and rebellious; Jane is obsessed with finding Max; and Kyle, a lawyer, struggles to cope with his own grief—and a persistent ...

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Missing Max: A Novel

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Overview

When baby Max is kidnapped during Mardi Gras, Jane and Kyle Madison’s life falls apart. What their daughter, Melanie, does next is unthinkable.

Max vanished into thin air while in the care of his teenage sister, Melanie. Six months later, the family is a shadow of its former self: Melanie blames herself and is acting out and rebellious; Jane is obsessed with finding Max; and Kyle, a lawyer, struggles to cope with his own grief—and a persistent suspicion that one of his cases is connected to Max’s disappearance.

With her family in turmoil and her marriage on the rocks, Jane thinks things can’t get any worse. Then when an affair and an unexpected pregnancy threaten to tear the Madisons’ lives apart, an anonymous caller leads to a break in the case. Can a second kidnapping bring their family back together?

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
Novelist Young (Blood Bayou) continues her romantic suspense specialty in her second book for an evangelical Christian imprint. The book loses no time in setting up its central and painful premise: six-month-old baby Max is kidnapped during the chaos of a New Orleans Mardi Gras. Mom Jane, dad Kyle, and teen stepsister Melanie must deal with the heart-wrenching, guilt-burdened aftermath, and they don't do it well. The crime element of the plot waits in the wings as the dysfunctional family drama plays out with a twist. Young doesn't begin weaving the villain into the action until fairly late in the book, leaving the narrative a little unbalanced as it shifts gears from domestic drama to crime suspense. The central relationship of Jane and Kyle is tense and emotionally credible; less credible is the volatile teenager Melanie, who makes a number of pivotal choices throughout the story. The faith elements are neither intrusive nor formulaic, and Young's dialogue characteristically crackles. Though this is not as strong as her previous outing, Young will continue to please her many readers.
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.
Romantic Times
“Karen Young is a spellbinding storyteller who explores complex emotions with great skill.”
Booklist
“Young’s romance is suspenseful and entrancing.”
Christian Retailing
"Readers of modern-day fiction will enjoy this tale of heart-rending emotion, forgiveness, suspense and high drama."
From the Publisher
“Karen Young is a spellbinding storyteller who explores complex emotions with great skill.”

“Young’s romance is suspenseful and entrancing.”

"Readers of modern-day fiction will enjoy this tale of heart-rending emotion, forgiveness, suspense and high drama."

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781602857940
  • Publisher: Center Point Large Print
  • Publication date: 8/1/2010
  • Format: Library Binding
  • Edition description: Large Print Edition
  • Pages: 414
  • Product dimensions: 5.60 (w) x 8.50 (h) x 1.40 (d)

Meet the Author

Karen Young is the international bestselling author of thirty-eight novels.
She has more than ten million books in print and is the recipient of the coveted RITA award from Romance Writers of America and the Career Achievement and Reviewer’s Choice awards from Romantic Times magazine. She is known as “a spellbinding storyteller who writes with sensitivity about issues facing contemporary women.” Karen's career in writing fiction for women has run the gamut from traditional romance to mystery thrillers to inspirational fiction. In her relationship-driven plots, she creates characters that could easily be her readers, and then places them in extraordinary circumstances while adding suspense to the mix.

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Read an Excerpt

Missing Max

A Novel
By Karen Young

Howard Books

Copyright © 2010 Karen Young
All right reserved.

ISBN: 9781416587491

1
 

THEY SAY SOME PEOPLE have a premonition about calamity before it strikes. But Jane Madison felt only irritation when her cell phone rang as she waited in the Mardi Gras crowd to order shrimp po'boys. Checking caller ID, she decided to ignore the call when she saw it was Melanie. Her stepdaughter probably wanted to change her order, but after standing in line for more than twenty minutes, Jane was finally up, so changing was not an option.

The man ahead of her received his order of fried shrimp, calamari, and beer. Loaded down, he turned suddenly and almost crashed into her. Not for the first time that day, Jane wished she were elsewhere. Ordinarily, she avoided Mardi Gras Day in New Orleans, but Melanie was at the age to be enthralled by the uninhibited and often near-depraved behavior all too common at the event. So Jane had reluctantly agreed to take her, even though it meant having to also bring Max. The other possibility for Melanie's calling was that Max was awake. If he were, Christine would know what to do. Having her best friend along made the day a bit more tolerable for Jane.

Teething had made Max cranky and restless lately, but so far he'd been surprisingly docile just watching the goings-on around him from his stroller.

Her cell phone rang again. Apparently Melanie wasn't giving up. Now loaded with two large bags and three soft drinks, Jane looked around for a place to set everything down, but there was no open spot, just hordes of people, literally a crush of humanity. Grumbling, she turned back to the vendor's cart and with a murmured apology transferred the load to his counter and fumbled to click her phone free of her purse. Sometimes Melanie could try the patience of a saint. “What is it, Melanie?”

“Mom, Max is gone!” the girl cried. “Come quick! He was here a minute ago, and now he's disappeared!”

Jane shifted to allow an impatient customer access to the vendor's condiments. “What do you mean, he's gone?”

“Just that! Didn't you hear me? He's disappeared.” Melanie's voice caught on a sob. “Hurry! We've looked everywhere, but there are so many people!”

“How could he be gone?” She was used to Melanie's overreacting. Even the girl's friends called her a drama queen. “Let me talk to Christine.”

“She's not here,” Melanie insisted. “A lady fainted and Christine went into the hotel lobby to help and Julie and Anne-Marie were here and we were talking and Max was in his stroller under the balcony just where you left him and then he was gone!” She drew a shaky breath. “Mom, I'm so scared.”

“Christine didn't take him with her?”

“No, no! Listen to me!” Melanie's voice went up another notch. “I'm serious, Mom. He's gone. Someone took him and his stroller and everything!”

Jane felt the first real stirrings of alarm. “Don't leave,” she ordered. “Stay where you are, Mellie. And don't hang up. I'm on my way.” Food forgotten, Jane hurriedly headed back the way she'd come. People took one look at her face and shifted out of her path.

“I can't just stand here and wait, Mom!” Melanie said in a shaky voice in Jane's ear. “We're going to Jackson Square.”

“Jackson—Why?”

“Don't you remember? We saw some policemen there when we were trying to find a place to—never mind, Mom, I'm going there. It's only a block away. I have to hurry!”

Jane barely managed to avoid crashing into a man outfitted in Native American garb, complete with a full feather headdress. With a muttered apology, she skirted around him, keeping the phone pressed to her ear. “I'm a block away, Melanie. Don't go any farther until I get there.”

“There's a cop on a horse! I'm going over.”

“Okay, but don't hang up,” Jane ordered.

Melanie gulped and burst into wild sobs. “Mom, I don't know how it happened! We were all just watching the floats and—”

“Just calm down, Mellie. You can tell me when I get there.” Surely there was a logical explanation. Babies didn't just vanish, although in a teeming crowd, it would surely be easier to kidnap— She stopped herself. She would not go there. She would not think the unthinkable. “Can you see Christine?”

“Not really. I told you, she went into the lobby. I mean, I saw the EMTs trying to get through. The lady who fainted is inside and so is Christine.”

Christine was the practice manager for a team of internists. Although she'd had no formal training as a nurse, she would certainly know what to do if someone fainted. “I can see the EMT unit now, Mellie. I'm going to stop and talk to Christine just to be sure she didn't take the stroller.”

“We saw her run over to the lady, Mom! She didn't take Max.”

“I'll just double-check.”

The sidewalk was choked with people, but Jane finally reached the hotel where the ambulance was now loading the woman inside. Spotting Christine, she tried forcing her way through the crowd, but she was quickly blocked by an EMT.

“Ma'am, you'll have to stay back and let us do our job.”

“I understand, but I have to talk to—”

“I'm sorry, but you can't talk to anyone just now.”

Jane craned her neck to look around him and managed to catch Christine's eye.

Christine's gaze went wide with surprise. “Jane. What is it? What's wrong?”

“Do you have Max?” Jane called over the EMT's shoulder.

Christine looked confused. “Max? No. What—”

“He's gone.” Frantically, Jane surveyed the sidewalk fronting the hotel where she'd left them. It was still choked with people cheering madly as the parade floats lumbered past. There was no sign of Max or his stroller.

“Where are you headed now?” Christine asked. “I need to get my things inside the hotel and I'll come over.”

“Melanie is at Jackson Square. Hurry, Christine.”

“I will.”

Turning, Jane headed in a rush toward Jackson Square, a full block away. In the distance, the three tall spires of St. Louis Cathedral reached high into a sky that was so clear and blue, it almost hurt to look at it. She put a hand to her heart. Please, God, don't let this be happening.

As she pushed through the reveling crowd, she told herself Melanie had to be overreacting. Still, she had a sick feeling in her stomach. The possibility that Max really had disappeared was simply too frightening to be real.

Finally, on reaching the square, she drew a desperate breath, searching for Melanie. How would she find her in this crowd? She pressed the phone to her ear. “Melanie, where are you? Talk to me.”

“I'm on the steps of the cathedral, Mom. Look, over here with the cops. You can see the horse. And I'm waving.”

With a rush of relief, she spotted Melanie standing with three uniformed policemen. Jane quickly headed toward them.

One cop held the reins of a horse, which stood patiently, unfazed by the chaotic goings-on. Melanie's friends hovered near her, looking frightened, their eyes scanning the crowd. As Jane approached, she saw a female officer speaking to one of the cops—issuing orders? With a nod, he quickly mounted, cut through the crowd, and disappeared in the direction of the river. Jane did not want to think of that dire possibility.

Melanie was crying, gesturing with her hands as she talked while her eyes anxiously searched the area. Jane's hope that this was all a mistake faded. Down the block on Bourbon Street, floats lumbered past, but in the parklike square, teeming with hundreds of people, how would they be able to find a baby, even in a stroller?

Like Melanie, her frantic gaze swept up and down the square. But there were so many people, so much confusion. Shops were closed, sidewalks jammed. Streets leading off the square were blocked off to accommodate the crowds. Balconies groaned with the weight of those lucky enough to have access. There was an occasional stroller, Jane noted, but none was a familiar blue with yellow-and-blue-plaid trim. With her heart beating frantically in her chest, she approached Melanie and the cops, two men and one female officer.

“I'm here,” she said, as Melanie launched herself into Jane's arms. Looking over the girl's head, she asked, “What can you tell me about my baby?”

The policewoman spoke. “Are you Mrs. Madison?”

“Yes, yes.”

“Mom, I've told them we shouldn't waste time talking! We need to be looking for Max!”

Jane caught Melanie's arms and angled back enough to see her face. “Mellie, be calm for a moment. Please. Let me talk to these people.”

“I'm Officer Cox, Mrs. Madison,” the woman said, extending her hand. Jane shook it, nodding mutely. “We've talked to Melanie, trying to get details of exactly what happened. She says she and her friends have thoroughly searched the immediate area where the stroller was parked. Meanwhile, NOPD officers have fanned out looking. But maybe there's a logical explanation. She tells us that there was another adult—”

“Christine O'Brian,” Jane said, nodding. “I just spoke to her. She's over there.” She waved her hand vaguely. “Some kind of medical emergency. She did not take Max with her.”

“And there was no one else with you today? No one who might have felt it okay to take the baby?”

“Without asking me?” Jane stared at her. “No, of course not.”

Cox pulled out a small memo pad. “And how old is the baby?” she asked, pen poised.

“Six months. He has b-blue eyes and blond hair.” Jane swallowed, struggling to keep calm. “He's wearing a red shirt and denim overalls. White sneakers. He's in a stroller. Navy blue and blue-and-yellow-plaid trim.”

“Could he have crawled out of it?”

“He couldn't have climbed out on his own. He—” She turned to Melanie. “Max wasn't out of his stroller, was he?”

Melanie's face crumpled. “No, he was asleep. Just the way he was when you left him with me, Mom.” She pressed the fingers of both hands against her lips. “I'm so scared, Mom!”

“We'll find him, Mellie.” Jane squeezed the girl's shoulders gently before turning back to the police officers. “How could a baby in a stroller just disappear?” But even as she asked the question, she knew the answer. The stroller didn't just disappear. Somebody had been watching, and when the teenager and her friends became distracted by the fainting woman and the parade and the sheer frenzy of Mardi Gras, that someone had seized the moment to take her baby.

That was the moment when Jane's concern escalated into terror.

“As I mentioned, I've alerted all units in the area, Mrs. Madison,” Officer Cox said, touching the radio attached to her belt. “I'm sending out a B.O.L.O.”

“B.O.L.O?”

“It means be on the lookout.” She spoke briskly into her radio and received a squawked response that was unintelligible to Jane.

As they stood, isolated by the trauma of a missing child, people milled about enjoying Mardi Gras. Some were in costume, others not. Some were drunk, but most were simply reveling in the abandoned spirit of carnival. Jane's gaze strayed beyond Jackson Square where the river formed the east boundary of the French Quarter. Kidnapping a child on a day meant for celebration was obscene. Had she looked into the face of the person who'd taken Max while mingling with the crowd that day?

“Approximately how long has it been since you actually saw the baby, Mrs. Madison?”

Jane struggled to focus. “Twenty—maybe thirty minutes, no longer. I left to get food.” She looked at Melanie. “How long after I left did Christine leave, Mellie?”

“I don't know. Pretty soon, I guess. You weren't even out of sight.”

“Meaning it could be thirty minutes, give or take,” Officer Cox said. Without stating the obvious, both knew a person could travel pretty far in that much time. Even in this crowd.

“We've got to find him!” Jane felt panic rising in her chest. She stopped, drawing a breath to try to collect herself. With her hand on her heart, she spoke again. “I'm sorry. This is just . . . so—it can't be happening!”

“Please. Come with me.” Cox caught Jane's arm and gently guided her toward the cathedral with Melanie following behind. “Let's get out of the crowd.”

As they headed to the steps of the cathedral, she added in a reassuring voice, “I know you're worried, but there are hundreds of uniformed policemen on duty today. They'll call me if they spot Max. Meanwhile, let's try to reconstruct what happened. There could be a logical explanation.”

“Like what!” Jane cried.

“Someone could have wheeled it away by mistake. Many of these strollers look alike.” The possibility was so ludicrous that Jane didn't bother contradicting her. No parent on the planet accidentally claimed a stroller with a strange baby in it.

Jane's cell phone rang. She clicked to talk . . . hoping, hoping. Maybe, just maybe—“Hello!”

“It's Christine. I'm trying to find you. Where are you?”

“Near the steps of the cathedral. One of the officers is on horseback. You should be able to see him. But Christine, we can't find Max.”

“Are you serious? He's disappeared?”

“Yes. Oh, Christine . . .” Her voice broke. “I can't believe this.”

“I'm on my way, Jane. I'll find you. Meanwhile, I'll be praying.”

Turning from Jane, Cox spoke to both officers standing by. “Head over to the hotel where Max was last seen. Someone there might have noticed something.” The officers nodded and headed out. “I'm here, Jane.” Christine, breathless from running, slipped an arm around Jane's waist and gave her a reassuring hug. “Thank goodness I was able to find you.”

“This—” Jane turned to Officer Cox. “This is Christine. She was with Max and Melanie when I left to . . .” she trailed off, swallowing hard.

“Surely someone saw—” Christine broke off.

“We're working on that now,” Cox said. She refocused on Jane. “Are you certain Max was in his stroller when you left?”

“Yes, of course. I checked to see that he was sleeping. He's teething. I knew if he woke up, he'd be grumpy. He would want . . . me.” Her voice caught. No time to break down now. “So, yes, he was asleep in his stroller when I left,” she said emphatically.

“Mom, let's call Dad,” Melanie said. As always, when Melanie was distressed, she wanted her daddy. Christine slipped a comforting arm around the girl's waist. Jane gave Christine a grateful look. With every passing minute, Jane, too, felt the need for Kyle's support.

“Max was definitely asleep in his stroller when I left,” Christine said.

With the policewoman leading, they all hurried up the steps to the cathedral. The steps were shallow and worn from the footsteps of the faithful and wide enough to accommodate a crowd. A single look at the officer's expression, and people parted like the Red Sea. An attendant standing at the doors moved aside to let them enter.

The sudden hush inside felt almost eerie. Jane glanced toward the altar with its display of religious symbols and quickly turned to focus on Officer Cox.

For some time, Christine, who was active in her church, had been urging Jane to explore the lack of faith in her life, but she'd resisted. It wasn't that she objected on any philosophical grounds; it was just that she'd never found it particularly . . . relevant. Her life was full and . . . well, busy. On Sundays, rather than getting dressed and going to church, she liked to sit around, read the paper, have a leisurely brunch . . . resting up for the demands of the coming week.

She felt suddenly fearful that she might pay a price for her attitude.

“Try to recollect anything unusual you might have noticed, Melanie.” Cox spoke in a calm voice. Jane guessed her tone was intended to steady Melanie and focus her thoughts. “Was there anyone who appeared out of place or was suspicious looking?”

“I-I didn't see anything or anybody like that.” She turned to Anne-Marie. “Did you see anything?”

Her friend shrugged. “What was there to see? We were talking, we were all watching the parade and then—”

“And then Max just . . . disappeared!” Melanie said, her voice climbing in panic. “We have to do something!”

“Tell you what.” Cox touched Melanie's shoulder. “Let's sit down over here to talk. All of you.” With a tip of her chin, she indicated that Melanie's friends as well as Jane and Christine should follow. But Melanie shifted free of the cop's touch.

“We shouldn't be talking at all!” she cried. “We should be looking! We should block off stuff! We should go inside bars and any place that's open! We should stop people and ask if they've seen Max. Whoever took him will get away if we don't do something right now!”

“We are doing something, Melanie,” the policewoman said calmly. “Please. Sit.” She waited while the group reluctantly perched on the edge of a pew.

“The incident has been reported. Right now officers are on the lookout for Max, but we can't ?block off stuff.' It's not possible in this crowd.” Her tone turned brisk. “Now. Let's go over the past half hour once again to be sure we haven't overlooked something. You first, Mrs. Madison.”

Jane drew a deep breath. Inside she felt as agitated as Melanie, and she wondered how long she could keep from falling apart. “We stopped at the sidewalk in front of the hotel, beneath the balcony because it wasn't quite as jammed with people, to watch the parade. I left Max with Christine and Mellie to get some food. There were two friends with her.” She looked at Christine. “Right, Chris?”

“Yes. And the stroller was right there when I left to help inside the hotel.”

“You noticed nothing unusual?”

Christine paused to think. “No. But I was there only another minute or two after Jane went for food. I told Melanie to watch Max and left.”

Cox turned to Melanie. “Tell me exactly what happened from the time Mrs. O'Brian left.”

“It was—” Melanie began with a guilty look at her stepmother. “Some guys we knew were on a float that was passing by, and the parade stopped, right there. You know how it is, everything's moving and then it's not. It was only for a minute, Mom, honest.” Her lips trembled as she met Jane's eyes. “They said when the parade was over that they knew someone on Bourbon Street who had rented rooms with a balcony and they were going to watch the rest of the parades from up there. They invited us too. So then it started up again and they left and we turned around and Max was gone!”

“This is the first I've heard about boys on a float,” Jane said sternly. “Did you forget you were responsible for your baby brother?”

“No, Mom.” Melanie dashed at tears in her eyes. “I swear to you, it was only a few minutes.”

“But long enough for someone to steal Max.” Jane knew her words were hurtful, but her concern was for her baby now, not Melanie.

“Mom, please call Dad! Please. We need him. He'll know what to do.”

Until a few minutes ago, Jane had been hesitant about calling Kyle in case the whole thing turned out to be a false alarm. But now, with her stomach in a knot and her mouth dry with fear, she knew it wasn't a false alarm. She sent Officer Cox a questioning look.

“It might be a good idea to call your husband, Mrs. Madison.”

JANE REACHED KYLE AT his office on Poydras, but it was thirty minutes before he managed to get to the cathedral. They gathered on the front steps outside, where the crowd seemed to have lessened just a bit.

On the phone, she'd been unable to tell him much except that Max had disappeared. He'd wanted details, but there were none. Now his fierce gaze swept past Officer Cox's serious face and Melanie's tear-drenched cheeks to lock onto Jane.

“Has he been found?”

“No.”

He looked stunned. “There has to be a mistake.”

“We've looked—” Jane paused, knowing her voice wavered. “They've fanned out to search, but the crowds are monstrous. They haven't turned up anything. It's as if he disappeared into thin air.”

“That's impossible. He must still be here somewhere. Someone is bound to've seen him. You gave them a description of his stroller?” He glanced at the police officer.

“Of course, Kyle.” Jane rubbed her temple where a sharp pain throbbed.

Officer Cox moved to them, putting out her hand. “Mr. Madison, I'm Sharon Cox, the investigating officer.” With a brief nod, he shook her hand.

“Now that you're here, I'd like to suggest we go to the police substation. It's a better place to talk. Once we're there, I'll explain—”

“I don't think we should leave,” he said in a firm tone. “And what's to explain? We should be combing the area, knocking on doors, questioning people, looking into garages and courtyards.” Glancing outside, he raked a hand over his face. “This is a nightmare.”

“Everything you mention is being done, Mr. Madison. N.O.P.D. is on the scene—has been from the start—but we're hampered by the crowd. What we need now is to piece together exactly what happened.”

“How can you be certain Max is nowhere nearby?”

“I can't say that with certainty,” Sharon said. “But we've found no trace of him. No one has seen anything suspicious.” Like Kyle's, her glance strayed beyond the narthex to the reveling crowd outside. “At least they've seen nothing that might be construed as suspicious beyond ordinary Mardi Gras madness.”

“It's all my fault, Dad!” Melanie cried suddenly.

Jane knew Mellie needed reassurance from Kyle. She needed to hear him say he understood her fear, that he wasn't angry with her. She needed a hug from her daddy. But from the grim expression on his face it didn't look as if she was going to get any such thing. “Max was with Melanie and her friends, Kyle,” Jane explained, trying to keep the tremor from her voice.

“With Melanie?” He frowned darkly. “Why was he with Melanie? Where were you?”

“I went to get us something to eat from a vendor . . . Julie and Anne-Marie were with them—”

“You left our son in the care of a bunch of teenagers to get junk food?”

Melanie made a distressed sound. “Dad, just listen. Please.”

“Hush, Melanie.” Kyle waved the teenager quiet, keeping his gaze laser sharp on Jane. “I'm waiting to hear what happened,” he told her.

“You can't say anything worse to me than I've been saying to myself, Kyle. The kids were hungry. I went to get food. Christine was with them. It never occurred to me that anything like this could happen.”

“Christine?” He turned to glance at Jane's friend then back at Jane.

“There was a medical emergency,” Jane said. “Christine lent assistance. She—” Jane stopped, not wanting to cast blame on Christine or Melanie.

Kyle's steely gaze turned to his daughter. “So how could Max disappear if you were watching him?”

Melanie was crying again. “We—we got talking and suddenly the parade stopped and this float was right by us. There were some guys we knew from school on it. They were laughing and goofing off and everything. They threw us tons of beads and stuff. It was just for a few minutes, Dad,” she said, pleading for understanding. “I know I shouldn't have taken my eyes off Max! But I thought he was safe on the sidewalk right beside me!”

“Clearly he wasn't beside you,” Kyle said.

“But he was only a few feet away, honestly.” She put both hands to her cheeks. “I mean, I don't know how long it was, minutes really, but when we looked, he was gone!”

Jane slipped an arm around the girl's shoulders, trying to console her, while inside she was sick with terror.

Kyle stood with his hands on his hips. “Can you estimate how much time passed before you noticed your baby brother was gone?”

When Melanie seemed unable to talk, Cox spoke up quietly. “We've covered all that, Mr. Madison. The parade stalled for about five minutes, so I don't see how it could have been much longer than that.”

“But more than long enough for someone to take the stroller and melt into the crowd, then head for only God knows where,” Kyle said in a flat tone.

“Possibly,” the officer conceded.

“I'm sorry! I'm sorry!” Melanie cried. “I didn't mean this to happen. I'm so sorry.”

Jane drew the girl closer. “We know, Mellie. And we'll find him. You'll see. We will.” She looked up into Kyle's eyes, her chin tilted. “We will!”

They all turned to look as the cop who'd been mounted on horseback appeared, dismounting and moving reverently toward them. His glance skimmed the Madisons before moving to Sharon Cox. “N.O.P.D. has found the stroller.”

Jane pressed her fist to her heart. “Oh, thank God!”

The cop gave her a sympathetic look. “I'm sorry, ma'am. The stroller was abandoned . . . up on the Riverwalk.” In one hand he held a tiny sneaker. “This is all we found. There was no sign of the baby.”

© 2010 KAREN YOUNG

Continues...


Excerpted from Missing Max by Karen Young Copyright © 2010 by Karen Young. Excerpted by permission.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.

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Sort by: Showing 1 – 17 of 18 Customer Reviews
  • Posted June 29, 2010

    more from this reviewer

    Missing Max

    After Katrina Mardi Gras is a beautiful spectacle. Jane Madison, her young son Max, her teenage stepdaughter Melanie and her friend Christine attend the event. Jane goes off to get refreshments while Christine watches Max. Melanie calls her stepmother to say Max is missing as Christine went to help somebody. Melanie flirted with some boys while, Max and his stroller vanished. Six months later, no trace of Max has surfaced though the police still follow any lead. The family fails to receive strength from each other; instead they drift apart. Melanie blames herself and deliberately gets pregnant so that she can give the newborn to her step-mom and dad Kyle. Blaming Jane for leaving their baby for a moment, Kylie moves out of their bedroom. Jane feels guilt not just for the loss of her child, but to what is happening to her family; however, she cannot pull herself together to prevent the collapse.
    The kidnapper calls to inform them Max is alive. It is also apparent that the kidnapper hates Jane, not Kyle who thought his legal work might be the motive.. Obsessed, Jane considers who might hate her enough to abduct Max.
    Karen Young writes a thrilling inspirational chiller that grips the audience from the opening abduction and never loosens its hold on readers need to know who and why. Missing Max focuses on how the kidnapped toddler's family cope with their loss; as each reacts differently to the big hole in their heart yet share in common a deep rooted need for separation and blame. Although a seemingly implausible finale, fans will root for determined Jane to rescue her kids from the monster.

    Thanks to Rebeca Seitz at Glass Road Publication for this wonderful book to review.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted January 26, 2013

    Missing Max is the story of six month old baby Max who is kidnap

    Missing Max is the story of six month old baby Max who is kidnapped during Mardi Gras while in the care of his older sister Melanie. The only thing left behind were his stroller and one shoe. Panic ensues, the police are called and everyone searches frantically for Max. The investigation continues and life goes on for Jane and Kyle Madison their relationship becomes strained to the point of breaking. They are brought to the brink of hope when they are called several different times when a child is found that has similar features of Max only to realize that each child is not theirs. Melanie deals with the loss of her baby brother and the strain of her parents seemingly broken relationship with some explosive, jaw dropping news of her own. Things soon take a downward spiral and everything starts to go wrong.

    This is the first book I have read by Karen Young and I enjoyed her writing style. Laural Merlington does an excellent job of narrating this story and the different voices she used for all the characters were excellent.

    I thought this book had a very real feel to it. Kidnappings can and do happen everyday. Parents go through the horrors of loosing a child. I cannot imagine a nightmare such as not knowing where your child is. Ms. Young does a great job of relating what the characters are feeling. Their loss, their ability (or inability) to cope with such loss. Their struggle with trying to live as normally as possible and getting through each day. The strain such a traumatic event causes within a marriage and a family. I liked the way this book did not just focus on the mother Jane but gave you a clear understanding of how each family member was effected by the loss of Max. How the choices we make effect others very deeply. How we can be so wrapped up in our pain that we cannot at times see what another family member is going that they are struggling with guilt and asking those if only questions.

    You see Jane as she struggles with God and why something like this can occur. And yet as she asks these questions she becomes closer to God and ultimately leans on Him.

    I found this book an enjoyable and good read. The suspense keeps you reading. The characters and events are believable. You see that the choices you make have lasting and sometimes irreversible consequences.

    I was given this book from Christian Review Of Books.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Posted June 27, 2010

    Riveting story about the impact of a child's kidnapping

    Missing Max by Karen Young is the story of every mother's worst nightmare. While watching the parade at Mardi Gras, Jane Madison asked stepdaughter, sixteen-year-old Melanie, to watch Max, her six-month-old son, for just a few moments. The boy disappeared while Mellie was talking to some of her friends. Police eventually find his stroller with only one shoe left behind. Seven months later, the family is falling apart in the wake of Max's disappearance. Jane has been spending all of her time at a missing child center, leaving husband Kyle and Melanie feeling abandoned and angry. When Jane starts receiving strange phone calls with a baby crying in the background, she at first dismisses them as crank calls, but she is soon being stalked by someone deranged who just may know what happened to Max. Young has crafted a taut and frightening story. When I first started reading the book, I only intended to read a few pages before bed, but the next thing I knew it was 2 am. I just couldn't put it down. Young takes care for the reader to empathize with all of the major characters and includes a faith element without shoving it down the reader's throat. It's a haunting story that will linger with readers.

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  • Posted June 28, 2010

    more from this reviewer

    When their son Max is kidnapped, Jane and Kyle soon find their marriage is being held hostage as well.

    When baby Max is kidnapped during Mardi Gras, Jane and Kyle Madison's life falls apart.

    What their daughter Melanie, does next is unthinkable.

    Max vanished into thin air while in the care of his teenage sister, Melanie. Six months later, the family is a shadow of its former self: Melanie blames herself and is acting out and rebellious; Jane is obsessed with finding Max; and Kyle, a lawyer, struggles to cope with his own grief - and a persistent suspicion that one of his cases is connected to Max's disappearance.

    With her family in turmoil and her marriage on the rocks, Jane thinks things can't get any worse. Then when an affair and an unexpected pregnancy threaten to tear the Madison's lives apart, an anonymous caller leads to a break in the case. Can a second kidnapping bring their family back together? (excerpt from back cover).

    My Review:

    Being a mom, I thought I would find reading this book, Missing Max by Karen Young, to be a challenge based on the content of a child being kidnapped. However upon reading this story I gained insight I had never realized before. You get to see what happens in the lives of this family that is forced to move forward with each day and what the results are in their marriage.

    Melanie was supposed to be watching Max while he slept in his stroller and when a Mardi Gras float stops in front of her and her friends, she realizes she knows the people on the float. She is only distracted for a few minutes but it's enough time to realize that her baby brother has been taken.

    She frantically calls her mom who has left to get them something to eat and can't believe it when Melanie tells her what has happened. How on earth will they find Max in the middle of a Mardi Gras parade?

    Jane feels responsible for leaving Max while she went to get them all something to eat. Melanie feels she is responsible for not keeping her attention on her brother, and Jane's husband Kyle, is upset with them both.

    All they find after searching for an hour is a tennis shoe left behind in Max's stroller by the river's edge.

    Trust me when I tell you this, the book is amazing. I love how the faith of God is revealed in the families crisis when they at first blame God for taking their son. Yet it's through that same faith that will slowly over time bring the family back to Him. See what amazing details God does throughout this book. I would highly recommend it and give it a 10 out of 10!

    I received this book compliments from Glass Road Public Relations for my honest review.

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  • Posted June 26, 2010

    more from this reviewer

    Missing Max

    Jane and Kyle Madison are both successful lawyers. Busy, too busy often. It is Mardi Gras and Kyle promised to take Melanie their sixteen year old daughter, but finds himself tied up at the office, so Jane agrees to take Melanie, even though baby Max is fussy and teething. Her best friend and neighbor Christine joins them. While gone to buy food for the teens, someone snatches Max. A nightmare that most parents pray never happen to them begins.

    The kidnapping of Max, stretches the Madison family to the point of breaking. Melanie is defiant, rude and hateful to Jane, Kyle blames Jane and Jane is blaming herself and perhaps subconsciously blaming Melanie. This family is on the verge of breaking apart. A stalker, who keeps trying to get to Jane brings Kyle and Jane together, but will they ever find baby Max?

    This book is a attention grabber, it was hard to put it down, even though I was nodding off from exhaustion, I still wanted to read on and see what would happen. I loved the writing style and this author is very good at word pictures and helping you to see the absolute despair this family faced. I really don't have the space or the words to truly describe how much I loved this book!! 319 pages US $14.99 5 stars!!!




    This book was provided for review purposes only, no payment of any type was received for this review.

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  • Posted June 11, 2010

    MISSING MAX

    First let me say that this book was a good read but it bothers me when I hear about a child being kidnapped, there are so many preverts out there that when I hear this I can't help but think what if it was one of my grandbabies. God have mercy on this sorry sinful world.

    Jane and Kyle Madison are riding high. They have a six-month old son Max, a sixteen year old daughter Melanie. Both Jane and Kyle have successful law careers. Things couldn't be better on that beautiful sunny day when Jane, Melanie, Max went to Mardi Gras. In a matter of moments their lives quickly spiral downward as Max, is kidnapped. All that is left is a tiny shoe and an empty stroller. The next six months become a nightmare as the family turns on each other, each trying in their own way to find Max and bring him back home. Jane turns to Child Search, an agency searching for missing children. Kyle begins his own search unknown to Jane. Even Melanie tries by making a major change in her life. None can predict the destruction as each tries to heal. But a chance sighting sets Jane on the right path to finding Max. But will they get there in time.
    Six months later, no trace of Max has surfaced though the police still follow any lead. The family fails to receive strength from each other; instead they drift apart. Melanie blames herself and deliberately gets pregnant so that she can give the newborn to her step-mom and her dad Kyle.
    Blaming Jane for leaving their baby for a moment, Kyle moves out of their bedroom. Jane feels guilty for the loss of her child, but to what is happening to her family; however, she cannot pull herself together to prevent the collapse. MISSING MAX is a brilliant depiction of perhaps the toughest issue a mother could ever face.
    This audio book was received for review by Oasis Audio.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Posted June 7, 2010

    I Also Recommend:

    UNRELENTING EMOTIONAL JOURNEY

    MISSING MAX is an unrelenting emotional journey that grips you by the throat on the first page and does not let you breath easy again until the end. This book wasn't just hard to put down, it was impossible.

    The chaos of Mardi Gras, a moment of inattention and baby Max disappears into thin air. A family tragedy. No one is at fault, but everyone is to blame. MISSING MAX is an insightful exploration of the dynamics of a family as they confront the reality of moving forward after Max's kidnapping.

    Six months later Jane's job is in jeopardy, her marriage has fallen apart and her step-daughter has become withdrawn and rebellious. Jane devotes her energy to the search for her baby; Kyle buries himself with work; sixteen year old Melanie announces she is pregnant.

    Just as Jane believes her life can't get any worse, someone starts taunting her with clues meant to make her believe Max is alive. And then the unthinkable happens, and it seems impossible that this story will reach a satisfying ending .

    Karen Young has never shied away from confronting the complex issues of modern life. MISSING MAX is a brilliant depiction of perhaps the toughest issue a mother could ever face.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Posted May 10, 2010

    I Also Recommend:

    Max pulls the heart strings

    MISSING MAX
    By Karen Young
    PAL Review by Jan Crow
    Jane and Kyle Madison are riding high. They have a six-month old son Max, a sixteen year old daughter Melanie. Both Jane and Kyle have successful law careers. Things couldn't be better on that beautiful sunny day when Jane, Melanie, Max went to Mardi Gras. In a matter of moments their lives quickly spiral downward as Max, is kidnapped. All that is left is a tiny shoe and an empty stroller. The next six months become a nightmare as the family turns on each other, each trying in their own way to find Max and bring him back to the fold. Jane turns to Child Search, an agency searching for missing children such as Max. Kyle begins his own search unbeknownst to Jane. Even Melanie tries by making a major change in her life. None can predict the destruction as each tries to heal. But a chance sighting sets Jane on the right path to finding Max..but will they get there in time.
    Karen Young has always promised a good story and this book does not veer from that vow. I was immediately pulled in, heart and mind as I quickly turned the pages. Emotions ran higher and higher with each trail that was a wrong turn. The war waged between mother and daughter had me hurting inside. And each step towards the healing of the family had me cheering.
    This is Karen Young's finest yet!

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  • Posted April 19, 2010

    more from this reviewer

    thrilling inspirational chiller

    Post Katrina Mardi Gras is a beautiful spectacle. Jane Madison, her young son Max, her teenage stepdaughter Melanie and her friend Christine attend the event. Jane goes off to get refreshments while Christine watches Max. Melanie calls her stepmother to say Max is missing as Christine went to help somebody. Melanie flirted with some boys while, Max and his stroller vanished.

    Six months later, no trace of Max has surfaced though the police still follow any lead. The family fails to receive strength from each other; instead they drift apart. Melanie blames herself and deliberately gets pregnant so that she can give the newborn to her stepmom and her dad Kyle. Blaming Jane for leaving their baby for a moment, Kylie moves out of their bedroom. Jane feels guilt not just for the loss of her child, but to what is happening to her family; however, she cannot pull herself together to prevent the collapse. Finally the kidnapper calls to inform them Max is alive. It is also apparent that the perp hates Jane, not Kyle who thought his legal work might be the motive.. Obsessed Jane considers who might detest her enough to abduct Max.

    Karen Young writes a thrilling inspirational chiller that grips the audience from the opening abduction and never loosens its hold on readers need to know who and why. Missing Max focuses on how the kidnapped toddler's family cope with their loss; as each reacts differently to the big hole in their heart yet share in common a deep rooted need for separation and blame. Although a seemingly implausible finale, fans will root for determined Jane to rescue her kids from the monster.

    Harriet Klausner

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
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    Posted February 10, 2011

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    Posted July 29, 2010

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    Posted June 26, 2010

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    Posted February 5, 2011

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    Posted December 16, 2010

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    Posted March 15, 2011

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    Posted July 30, 2010

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