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The Pied Piper (Boldt and Matthews Series #5)

The Pied Piper (Boldt and Matthews Series #5)

4.2 8
by Ridley Pearson, Dale Hull (Read by)

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A shipping container washed ashore leads Seattle television news anchor Stevie McNeal and reporter friend Melissa on the trail of a scare involving the importation of illegal aliens. A career stepping-stone for McNeal, the investigation puts her at cross-purposes with the Seattle Police Department's Lou Boldt and Sergeant John LaMoia. When Melissa disappears, perhaps


A shipping container washed ashore leads Seattle television news anchor Stevie McNeal and reporter friend Melissa on the trail of a scare involving the importation of illegal aliens. A career stepping-stone for McNeal, the investigation puts her at cross-purposes with the Seattle Police Department's Lou Boldt and Sergeant John LaMoia. When Melissa disappears, perhaps at the hands of the Chinese Triad, McNeal turns from foe to ally and teams up with the detectives on an investigation that takes them from Seattle's docklands to the offices of the INS.

Editorial Reviews

The Barnes & Noble Review
Ridley Pearson is a thriller writer with a bite. His novels, from Probable Cause to Beyond Recognition, carry the requisite killers, victims, smart cops, bad cops, forensic investigations, and other police procedural hallmarks to ensure a major readership, but what he also brings to the genre is a powerful talent for writing suspenseful scenes, in rapid-fire succession. I've been hooked on his stuff since Under Currents, and not one of his novels has been disappointing to me.

The Pied Piper is simply drawn, and yet I was completely entangled in its story line. Pearson is truly a master at work as he details the ins and outs of police work on a crime scene and sets up the mystery at the center of this delightfully entertaining thriller.

And yeah, it is a roller coaster, make no mistake. Hang on for dear life and just go with the suspense. It rarely gets better than this.

The setting is Seattle, and a woman is edgy as she and her husband board a special dinner train as a way of celebrating their anniversary. It's the first time she's left her two young children behind, and she feels trapped on the train, unable to check on their babysitter. When she finally calls from the train, there's no answer.

What a neighbor has already discovered is the babysitter knocked out cold on the floor, and the children gone. In the baby's crib is a small plastic flute. This is the hallmark of the Pied Piper, a kidnapper or ring of kidnappers who take children.

Before the parents even have a chance to leave their train, the police and detectives are swarmingoverthe small suburban home. Pearson fans will enjoy seeing the entrance of Lieutenant Lou Boldt as he joins his colleagues at the scene of the crime to try and piece together what happened and possibly find out why. Soon, his partner-in-investigations, forensic psychologist Daphne Matthews, joins him. Other faces familiar to Pearson fans also emerge, but Lou and Daphne definitely take over. Immediately they go to work to learn anything they can from possible witnesses. This is not the first kidnapping for the Pied Piper. Whoever has committed these acts has been terrifying communities for six months, and with diabolical brilliance. The FBI and police itself have been used by the Pied Piper, and their fumblings only served to allow this kidnapper to continue on his deadly course.

Daphne and Lou must work together to track the Pied Piper before another child is taken. And when another child is taken, it is too close to home for Lou Boldt.

This is a fast-paced psychological thriller that has blockbuster written all over it. Ridley Pearson has a real knack for keeping the action going through the various layers of his plot, and while some of the action might be predictable, it is never slow-going, and always fascinating. Lou Boldt and Daphne Matthews are wonderful detectives to follow as they — and we — find out more about the Pied Piper and the fate of the children he snatches.

For those who love masterful suspense and high-octane thrills, The Pied Piperis up there with the best of Ridley Pearson. Recommended.

Douglas Clegg

Vanessa V. Friedman
Despite the book's intricate plot, Pearson's wooden characters may make you wish you hadn't paid the Piper.
Entertainment Weekly
Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
A serial kidnapper called the Pied Piper--the villain of Pearson's ingenious, fast-moving 11th thriller--has targeted Seattle, and newly promoted Lieutenant Lou Boldt (last seen in Beyond Recognition) is called in on the case by John LaMoia of the Seattle Crimes Against Persons unit. Boldt, whose wife, Liz, is undergoing chemotherapy, soon discovers that the Pied Piper has managed to target families, steal children and vanish from city after city seemingly at will, although the FBI, under the direction of Special Agent Gary Flemming, has been chasing the serial kidnapper across the country for months. And it looks like the same thing will happen in Seattle, especially when vital information is withheld by the FBI in a turf battle with the locals. But just as Boldt starts asking the right questions, the Pied Piper abducts his daughter, Sarah. It's twists like this that fuel the rest of the novel as Pearson tightens the screws on Boldt as he tries to find his daughter and prevent another kidnapping. The plot begins simply and becomes wonderfully complex, stretching from Seattle to New Orleans; while the lucky car accident that helps break the case wide open is somewhat facile, the work of Boldt and an expertly drawn supporting cast of characters will hold the attention of readers. As will be clear even to neophytes, Boldt's relationship with forensic psychologist Daphne Matthews, and the ongoing affair between two members of the task force, point to a lot of history between these characters, none of it confusing for first-timers, who may be tempted to pick up earlier novels to see whether they're all this good. $250,000 ad/promo; Literary Guild, Doubleday Book Club selections; author tour. Agent, Al Zuckerman. (Aug.) FYI: A mass market edition of Beyond Recognition will be published simultaneously.
Kirkus Reviews
Seattle cop Lou Boldt's been promoted to Lieutenant and shifted from Homicide to Intelligence, but all the changes don't protect him from the most painfully intimate contact with a kidnapper of small children.

The Pied Piper, who restricts his prey to infants and leaves a signature pennywhistle in each empty nursery, has been plying his trade for long months up and down the West Coast before he snatches little Rhonda Shotz from her babysitter. And Gary Flemming, the bullying Seattle FBI agent, has been tracking him without success. Now that Boldt's been yanked from his wife Liz's side (she's hospitalized with lymphoma), and put in charge of the task force his own captain has formed, the usual jurisdictional sparks are bound to fly. This time, though, the sparks are as hot as the fires in Beyond Recognition (1997).

Just as Boldt and his team, his successor at Homicide, Sgt. John LaMoia; forensic psychologist Lt. Daphne Matthews; Scientific Investigation Director Bernie Lofgrin; and the scaldingly resentful FBI, begin to comb far enough through the scant physical evidence to link The Pied Piper to a low-rent shamus and a bustling methamphetamine lab, the Piper snatches Boldt's own daughter Sarah to insure that he keeps the task force muzzled. . . . . Slowly, slowly, Boldt moves from following the Piper to anticipating his next move, as the scene shifts to New Orleans, where the police 'emphasize relationships over the letter of the law.' Though the Piper, once revealed, scarcely seems monstrous enough to have caused the cast members so much heartache, Pearson proves once again that he can put together a big-scale, big-time police manhunt better than anybody else in thebusiness.

Product Details

Brilliance Audio
Publication date:
Boldt and Matthews Series , #5
Edition description:
Product dimensions:
4.27(w) x 6.97(h) x 0.64(d)

Read an Excerpt

The train left the station headed for nowhere, its destination also its point of embarkation, its purpose not to transport its passengers, but to feed them.

By early March, western Washington neared the end of the rinse cycle, a nearly perpetual curtain of ocean rain that blanketed the region for the winter months, unleashing in its wake a promise of summer. Dark, saturated clouds hung low on the eastern horizon. Well to the west, where the sun retreated in a violent display, a glimpse of blue cracked the marbled gray, as welcome to the residents of Seattle as any sight alive.

Arrival at the dinner train surprised Doris Shotz. She had thought her husband Paul was taking her to Ivar's, one of Seattle's more popular fish-house chains. A simple dinner date had presented her with a test of sorts, being that it was her first evening leaving her four-month-old baby girl, Rhonda, with a sitter. She'd finally decided she could handle an hour or two a few blocks away from home. But an entire evening stuck on a train in the woods was unimaginable, unthinkable!

"Surprised?" he asked, displaying the tickets proudly.

On the verge of total panic, Doris reminded herself that Julie was an experienced sitter, having taken care of Henry for the last year, as responsible a fifteen-year-old as one could ask for. Better to give Paul his moment than to start a fight.

They'd been talking about the dinner train for years. And Doris had to concede that over the last nine months, Paul had been a saint. She owed him.

"I can't believe it!" she said truthfully.

"I know. You didn't guess, did you?"

"Not for an instant. I promise: It's a complete surprise."

"Good." He reached down and took her hand and squeezed. She felt flushed. She wanted to be home with the kids.

"All aboard," he said.

The train lurched. Doris Shotz shifted to avoid spilling the cheap champagne that Paul had ordered. Although she didn't want to drink while nursing, she knew Paul would consider it an act of defiance to say no to any part of the celebration, and given that she had already gone this far to please her husband, she wasn't going to let one glass of champagne ruin the evening. When the train turned east, the frosted mountains flooded crimson with the sunset, Paul said with obvious satisfaction, "This is a long way from the backside of a computer."

Paul repaired PCs for Micro System Workshop, a name his employer had invented because it could be reduced to MS Workshop, and in an area dominated by Microsoft those two initials meant dollars. Paul drove a blue MS Workshop van around the city, crisis to crisis, fire to fire: hard drives, networks, IRQ ports -- Doris had heard all the buzzwords enough times to think she might be capable of a repair or two herself.

Paul provided for them adequately. He loved her in his own way. She loved him too, though differently than she once had. Now the children absorbed most of her time and much of her love, too. She wasn't sure exactly how to categorize her love for Paul; she simply knew that she would always be at his side, would attempt to put up with his moods. But the truth was that she lived for her children, Rhonda and Henry. She had never before known such a complete feeling. It warmed her just thinking about it.

She politely refused a refill of champagne as she watched her husband's cheeks redden behind the alcohol's effects. Clearly carried away with happiness and the light buzz that came from the champagne, he talked at her, but she didn't hear. Boys and trains, she thought.

"Do you think I should call home?" she asked him.


She motioned to the rear of the train car. "There's a pay phone. Cellular. I could call them."

"You know how much those things cost? Fifteen minutes, Doro," he pointed out, checking his Casio and saying sarcastically, "we've been gone a whole fifteen minutes!" He leaned closer and she could smell the sweet alcohol on his breath, a smell that reminded her of the occasional drunken violence that Paul had sometimes brought with him to their bed. "They're fine. Julie's perfectly capable."

"You're right," she said, offering him a fragile smile. He nodded and stared out the window. She felt sick with anxiety.

It occurred to her that in a few minutes she could excuse herself to go to the bathroom and use the phone. Paul would probably never know. The champagne bottle's white plastic cork rolled noisily at his feet. The train clattered past condominiums that reminded her of a Monopoly board. A few of the couples had dressed for the occasion, though most wore jeans and sweatshirts. It wasn't exactly the Orient Express.

It soon became clear that Paul's romance was with the train rather than her. Flushed cheeks pressed to the glass, his right foot tapping quickly as it always did when he drank in excess, her husband disappeared into the alcohol and she retreated into thoughts about her children.

Ten minutes passed with minimal conversation. Doris excused herself and made the call home. It rang and rang, but there was no answer.

Wrong number, she decided. At those prices -- $3.95 for the first minute, $.99 each portion of a minute thereafter -- Paul was certain to catch the charge on the credit card bill. But so what? She pressed NEW CALL. She redialed, again suffering under the weight of its endless ringing. She could envision Julie busy with a diaper, or in the middle of feeding. It didn't necessarily mean trouble....

A fire, she thought. Paul's home entertainment center -- a sports center was more like it -- crowded the outlets with far too many wires. What would Julie do in a fire?

The knot in her stomach twisted more tightly. Her fingers went cold and numb. Julie might be in the bathroom. Nothing more than that.

But her imagination wouldn't let it go. Perhaps Julie had a boyfriend with her in the house. In that case, she wouldn't be paying attention to either the kids or the phone. Doris stole a look around the corner and down the shifting train car's center aisle to the back of her husband's head. She had already been gone a few minutes, and it would ruin everything if he caught her at the pay phone. She had promised him she would wait to call until after dinner.

She hung up the receiver, deciding to slip into the washroom and then try again when she came out. But she emerged only to find someone else using the phone, ironically a mother happily talking to her children.

When the woman hung up, Doris tried again. This time the phone's endless ringing seemed a kind of punishment for trying at all. She glanced up the aisle at Paul, but now all she could think about was that there was something terrible going on. She decided to call her neighbor Tina, who answered on the second ring.

Doris concentrated on removing any panic from her voice. "Tina, it's Doris. I have a really weird favor to ask of you...."

In her mother's heart she knew: Something was dreadfully wrong.


What People are Saying About This

Clive Cussler
One hell of a writer. He grabs, he twists, he tightens the screws.

Meet the Author

Ridley Pearson is the award-winning co-author, along with Dave Barry, of Peter and the Starcatchers, Peter and the Shadow Thieves, Peter and the Secret of Rundoon, Peter and the Sword of Mercy, Escape From the Carnivale, Cave of the Dark Wind, Blood Tide, and Science Fair. In addition to Kingdom Keepers: Disney After Dark, Kingdom Keepers: Disney at Dawn, Kingdom Keepers: Disney in Shadow, and Kingdom Keepers: Power Play, he is also the author of the young adult thrillers Steel Trapp: The Challenge and Steel Trapp: The Academy. He has written more than twenty best-selling crime novels including Killer View and Killer Weekend. He was the first American to be awarded the Raymond Chandler/Fulbright Fellowship in Detective Fiction at Oxford University.

Brief Biography

St. Louis, Missouri
Date of Birth:
March 13, 1953
Place of Birth:
Glen Cove, New York
Kansas University, B.A., Brown University

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Pied Piper 4.3 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 8 reviews.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Hard to put this down at night
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Good story line with recurring characters
marypelletier More than 1 year ago
Good book with great intersecting plots all dealt with and resolved
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Guest More than 1 year ago
Fantastic book. A stunning read but then again its Ridley Pearson. He owns this genre I believe. I have read all his books and I like a few other authors but no one tells a story like Pearson. This one is top notch. It grabs you and just when you think you know what will happen next the opposite will happen. I found myself biting my nails while reading this. If you are looking for someone who really knows how to write a book look no further than Pearson and any thing in the Boldt series is worth it with this one or Undercurrents leading the way.
Guest More than 1 year ago
This is the first book I read by this author and have already given it to two of my co-workers to read. Since reading this book I have bought all the rest and have only three left to read. The Pied Piper makes you wish there were more pages to it. The whole book is well written and Mr. Pearson keeps you on the edge of your seat wondering how something like this could happen in everyday life. I would suggest this book to anyone that likes good vs. bad, and anyone that appreciates a good read
Guest More than 1 year ago
The Pied Piper by Ridley Pearson Published by Hyperion, New York This is the first book I've read by Ridley Pearson but it definitely won't be the last. The book is filled with believable characters with interesting lives outside of their work and relationships that makes the skin tingle with tension. The plot is skillfully crafted and moves quickly from the kidnaping of young children to the internecine competition between the FBI and the Seattle Police Department. Someone within the two groups is giving the kidnapers inside information and when Lou Boldt's child is kidnaped and he is told to slow down the investigation or he won't see his child again, the tension rises to unimaginable heights. For those who are parents and perhaps even those who arnt, the thought of losing a child to kidnapers brings a dimension and intensity to the plot that is at times unbearable. This is a well written and carefully crafted book filled with excitement and enough twists and turns of plot to hold anyone. I can't wait for the next one.
Guest More than 1 year ago
This was a very enjoyable book, with well thought out charachters full of depth and passion. There is nothing wooden about them. The story keeps you guessing right up to the end. Good weekend read.