Off the Face of the Earth: Somebody's Child Is Missing. It Could Be Yours.

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Overview

When eight-year-old David Greene climbs through his bedroom window and walks to a nearby suburban mall, he intends only to give his mother Drew a scare. But on this Southern California evening, David's game turns into every parent's worst nightmare. Denver's abduction of David is practiced and nearly perfect. A friendly "stranger" masking a deeply confused and dangerous mind, Denver woos David with stacks of baseball cards, swiftly undermining the boy's trained responses. When David accepts the offer of a ride ...
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Overview

When eight-year-old David Greene climbs through his bedroom window and walks to a nearby suburban mall, he intends only to give his mother Drew a scare. But on this Southern California evening, David's game turns into every parent's worst nightmare. Denver's abduction of David is practiced and nearly perfect. A friendly "stranger" masking a deeply confused and dangerous mind, Denver woos David with stacks of baseball cards, swiftly undermining the boy's trained responses. When David accepts the offer of a ride home, he disappears - off the face of the earth. As the hours pass, Drew's emotions escalate, from anger at her son's disobedience to fear, to stunned disbelief when she realizes David is not with his father or friends. He's gone. All too soon, the Sherwood Police charge a local schizophrenic with David's murder and declare the case closed. Fueled by terror and an acute instinct that her son is still alive, Drew appeals to her disjointed family and a maverick police officer. Together they launch their own full-scale search. The story alternates between Drew's frantic hunt for the son she knows is still living and the boy's brave struggle to survive by leaving clever hints of his presence even as Denver retreats further and further into insanity.
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Editorial Reviews

Library Journal
Eight-year-old David Greene is a difficult kid, troubled by his parents' divorce. Sent to his room for fighting with his little brother, he runs away, intending to return by dark. By the time Drew, his mother, realizes he's missing, David has journeyed to the mall in his home town and been abducted by a drifter. Beaten and robbed of his identityliterally speechless with fearDavid nevertheless refuses to surrender to his captor's madness. He leaves ingenious clues for his mother and her search team: the battle-scarred detective assigned to the case, Drew's ex-husband's computer-savvy young girlfriend; and Drew's mother, who dotes on her three golden retrievers. This first novel from Harmetz (The Making of the Wizard of Oz, LJ 10/1/77) is more than just another child-in-jeopardy thriller. She's created a multilayered story with unforgettable characters. Fans of Joy Fielding will love this. Highly recommended for all fiction collections. [Previewed in Prepub Alert, LJ 4/1/97.]Laurel A. Wilson, Alexandrian P.L, Mount Vernon, Ind.
Kirkus Reviews
A former Hollywood business reporter for the New York Times (On the Road to Tara, 1996, etc.) debuts in fiction with this neatly restrained California suspenser. In Sherwood, eight-year-old David Greene deliberately upsets his divorced mother, Drew, calls his younger brother Kiley "suckdick," gets sent to his bedroom—and decides to run away. At a mall where he buys baseball trading cards, David, as he's beginning to reconsider, is induced to accept a ride with Denver, a stranger, who abducts him instead of taking him home—and then starts brainwashing David into becoming "Andy Ellis." Harmetz's procedural follows the cops' fruitless but necessary police work, Drew's stages of anxiety that lead to action, Denver's modus operandi, and the outward personality changes in David. The Sherwood police too readily assume that David has been killed, going so far, on very slender evidence, as to charge someone with his murder. Denver, meanwhile, is a master of child psychology, clearly having brainwashed many young boys into affection for him ("Yes, Daddy"). David, however, has a 168 IQ and secretly retains his real identity. Scenes alternate as Drew gradually draws a local detective, uncomfortable with the so-called resolution of the case, into the search, and as Denver and David move from motel to motel, hanging out at trading-card stores. Finally, the boy gets the idea of leaving trading cards of players named "David" as clues at various places, even though Denver keeps a very close eye on him. At first, Denver's a good daddy, however twistedly he tries to seduce David's affections. And since David hasn't truly vanished off the face of the earth, the climax is a foregoneconclusion. Believable, well-weighted characters and dialogue, without really transcending genre status.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780671004651
  • Publisher: Pocket Books
  • Publication date: 2/1/1998
  • Format: Mass Market Paperback
  • Pages: 311
  • Product dimensions: 4.18 (w) x 6.74 (h) x 0.85 (d)

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  • Anonymous

    Posted July 12, 2004

    THIS BOOK ROCKS!!!

    This boook was probasbly the best mystery book ive ever read. It leaves you on the edge of your seat thirsting for more.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
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