The Nightmare Thief

The Nightmare Thief

3.8 9
by Meg Gardiner

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Autumn wants something special for her twenty-first birthday. She has the sports car, the apartment, and the private college. Now she wants excitement. She’s going to get it. Daddy has signed up Autumn




Autumn wants something special for her twenty-first birthday. She has the sports car, the apartment, and the private college. Now she wants excitement. She’s going to get it. Daddy has signed up Autumn and her friends for the “ultimate urban reality” game: a simulated drug deal, jailbreak, kidnapping, and manhunt. Authorities know all about it.

That’s why they’re disregarding the cries for help. How convenient for a gang of players taking it to the next level. They’re playing for real. When forensic psychiatrist Jo Beckett and her partner, Gabe Quintana, are pulled into the game, the stakes are raised. After all, nobody wants to spoil Autumn’s fun. And nobody is leaving this party alive.  

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
Bringing her two series leads together for the first time, Gardiner pits forensic psychiatrist Jo Beckett (The Dirty Secrets Club) and reporter Evan Delaney (Kill Chain) against a kidnapping team that's out for something more than ransom in this strong thriller. When Evan contacts Jo in San Francisco for help with a story on the suspicious death of attorney Phelps Wylie, whose body was found in a mine in the Sierras, Jo agrees to conduct a psychological autopsy on Wylie, including poking around the mine with her pararescueman boyfriend, Gabe Quintana. Back in San Francisco, Autumn Reiniger embarks on an urban reality game run by Edge Adventures, a 21st birthday present from her father, the director of a hedge fund, Reiniger Capital, but is soon kidnapped, along with her friends, by a group impersonating the Edge crew, raising the stakes. In the Sierras, Jo and Gabe run into Autumn and her kidnappers, who are demanding million for her safe return—and Gardiner really gets the adrenaline pumping. (July)
Library Journal
When forensic psychiatrist Jo Beckett and her partner, Gabe Quintana, in the course of an investigation come across six teenagers being corralled by a suspicious group of men for a "wilderness adventure," she senses that something is amiss. Far from being reassured when the teenagers tell her that they are simply part of a mock kidnapping designed to celebrate spoiled rich girl Autumn Reiniger's entrance into adulthood, Jo is anxious to depart and investigate further. Before they can leave, confusion erupts, and Jo and Gabe become unwitting members of the birthday group. They have ample experience surviving the elements, luckily, because they must formulate a daring plan to rescue the teenagers and unmask the players behind the kidnapping before it is too late. VERDICT In her eighth novel, Gardiner (The Dirty Secrets Club) spins a thrilling, fast-paced tale about what can happen when we tempt fate. Fans of Iris Johansen will enjoy Jo Beckett's propensity for knocking down trouble and landing squarely on her feet. [See Prepub Alert, 12/21/10.]—Natasha Grant, New York
Kirkus Reviews

Bay Area forensic psychiatrist Jo Beckett's fourth case (The Liar's Lullaby, 2010, etc.) finds her caught in the middle of a fantasy crime spree turned deadly.

Hedge-fund king Peter Reiniger is no ordinary father, and his 21st-birthday present to his thoroughly spoiled daughter Autumn is no ordinary gift. He's hired Edge Adventures to orchestrate a weekend scenario in which Autumn becomes the Queen of Crime and five of her best buds get to play the roles of her lawyer, her accomplices and her nemesis. But not even Edge's reputation for elaborate planning can prevent rogue financier Dane Haugen from stepping into the middle of this latter-day fairy tale and, motivated by some obscure harm he suffered at Reiniger's hands, kidnapping Autumn for real for $20 million. Jo and her main man, Sgt. Gabe Quintana, are on their way back from attorney Phelps Wylie's final resting place—an abandoned gold mine in which, Jo quickly rules, he certainly didn't commit suicide—when they stop to play Good Samaritan and are rewarded by getting taken captive along with Autumn and her friends. Not enough complications for you? Another freelance kidnapper plans to grab Autumn and company from Haugen's clutches, ransom Autumn and make short work of the supporting cast—one of whom has the bright idea of jumping the bad guys, turning a routine fake-kidnapping-turned-real into a fight for survival against armed criminals, rattlesnakes and every other wilderness peril you can imagine.

The mind-bogglingly improbable setup and the number of wild cards in the mix guarantee endless plot twists, most of them so diabolically engineered that you'll forget how wafer-thin the characters are.

Product Details

Penguin Publishing Group
Publication date:
Jo Beckett Series, #4
Sales rank:
Product dimensions:
4.20(w) x 6.75(h) x 1.10(d)
Age Range:
18 Years

Meet the Author

Meg Gardiner previously practiced law and taught at the University of California, Santa Barbara. Originally from Southern California, she now lives with her family in London. The Dirty Secrets Club is her first novel published in the U.S. She will be promoting The Dirty Secrets Club on a national tour this summer.

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The Nightmare Thief 3.9 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 9 reviews.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I found the book hard to follow, how did the guy get from a wrecked truck across the raging river and up to the road before the (good guys) go there??
grumpydan More than 1 year ago
Autumn and her friends are in for one hell of an adventure. Or so they thought; on her 21st birthday, her father books an fantasy adventure for her and her friends (hoping it will help her grow up). He had experienced one and thought it would be just what she needed. Except things go wrong and the fantasy becomes reality when the kids are kidnapped for real! The cops were notice din advance that it was a game. But forensic psychiatrist Jo Beckett stumbles across the kidnapped kids while investigating another case and now must fight for her life against these trained killers. This thriller is fast paced; no doubt about that. And the action never stops. The characters are well developed and the descriptive narratives of the terrain make you feel part of the story. A very good story.
harstan More than 1 year ago
In San Francisco reporter Evan Delaney (see Kill Chain) investigates the death of attorney Phelps Wylie as he finds some odd phenomena starting with the corpse found in the Sierras,. Needing help, Evan contacts forensic psychiatrist Jo Beckett (see The Dirty Secrets Club) for help. Jo Informs Evan she will perform a psychological autopsy. She begins her analysis and she and her boyfriend Gabe Quintana visit the mine for further information. In San Francisco, twenty-one years old Autumn Reiniger's father gives her a birthday present of playing an Edge Adventures urban reality game. However, a different group abducts Autumn and her friends, demanding her father CEO of Reiniger Capital hedge fund pay twenty-million in ransom money for their safe return. Gabe and Jo collide with the kidnappers and their six spoiled offspring of wealth. The first collaboration between the leads of Meg Gardiner's two series is a terrific thriller though neither Delaney nor Beckett is the prime players. Instead spoiled overly indulged Autumn with her need to connect anyway she can with her distant dad is the star. Readers will enjoy this strong rescue mission attempt as even the affluent have emotional issues though it is difficult to feel much sympathy towards the six as money may not buy happiness but it eliminates the economic detractors that the impoverish face; which make happiness that much harder to obtain. Harriet Klausner
JP1 More than 1 year ago
This is the first Meg Gardiner book that I have read. It is a thriller; I could not put it down. I stayed up last night till beyond midnight to get to the end. The bad guy has an encounter with deadly snakes. Not pretty! So much for the idea that female authors cannot be as gruesome and innovative as male authors. Wow, I would not want to be the villain in one of her books. Not a good outcome. Meg Gardiner was a presenter at the recently concluded Texas Book Festival. I was impressed by her presentation and decided to get one of her books. I done good; I plan to read others.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This book has a very contrived, unrealistic plot with characters I didn't really care about. Although I've read other books by the author this selection would make me shy away from others in the same series. Can't recommend.
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