Off the Face of the Earth

Off the Face of the Earth

by Aljean Harmetz
     
 
Eight-year-old David Greene has already run away twice since his parents got divorced. The third time started out no differently--except this time, David doesn't return. The police are anxious to charge a local homeless man with his death, but David's mother is convinced he is alive. With the help of a maverick police officer, she discovers David's trail, and she's

Overview

Eight-year-old David Greene has already run away twice since his parents got divorced. The third time started out no differently--except this time, David doesn't return. The police are anxious to charge a local homeless man with his death, but David's mother is convinced he is alive. With the help of a maverick police officer, she discovers David's trail, and she's led down a harrowing path of clues.

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.

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780684836171
Publisher:
Scribner
Publication date:
07/02/1997
Pages:
288
Product dimensions:
6.47(w) x 9.57(h) x 1.11(d)

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