The Kidnapping of Aaron Greeneby Terry Kay
Aaron Greene is a shy, stay-in-the-background young Jewish boy, the child of shy, stay-in-the-background parents. Only a year out of high school, he has a part-time job as a mailboy in a large Atlanta bank. One morning, on his way to work, he is kidnapped and the kidnappers demand a ransom of ten million dollars - not from his parents, but from the bank that employs him.
The bank rejects the demand.
And what begins as a curious crime - the abduction of an unknown, a nobody - soon ignites a national crusade for Aaron's safe return, because everyone, in one way or another, understands what it is like to be a nobody.
For the kidnappers, the money has no meaning. The mastermind, Ewell Pender, is a wealthy eccentric, an elderly board member of the bank, yet also the man who organizes the campaign to raise Aaron's ransom. His criminal associates are young nonconformists, dreamers and daredevils. Keeping Aaron in the luxury of the Pender mansion is, to them, a clever and teasing adventure. For Aaron, it is not life-threatening; it is life-changing.
Caught in the mystery is a journalist who unwittingly is used as a pawn by the kidnappers to tell Aaron's story, and also a detective who bends rules and follows his instinct as much as his training. For both, the kidnapping reveals a profound understanding of their own lives in the complex workings of the world around them.
Richly written, driven by baffling twists in plot, and featuring powerful portrayals of memorable characters, The Kidnapping of Aaron Greene goes beyond the elements of a classic crime. It is an experiment in human manipulation and behavior, and a riveting study of the passions and apathy historically exhibited by society.
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Read an Excerpt
On the morning that he would be kidnapped, Aaron Greene left his umbrella at home.
His mother had warned of rain. It was in the forecast, she Lid said in her small, fretting voice. She had urged him to wear his raincoat and to take his umbrella, but he had forgotten the umbrella in the rush of leaving, and now he thought of the five blocks he would have to walk from the Omni station to the Century National Bank, and of the morning crowd that would push against him in its hurried dash through the fine mist of the ram that had begun during the tram ride from Decatur.
Aaron did not like the morning crowd. The morning crowd was impersonal, sleep-drugged, somber. The morning crowd moved to the pull of job clocks. The morning crowd did not speak.
The morning crowd was there each day at the Decatur tram station, and at each stop on the ride into Atlanta--at East Lake, Candler Park, Inman Park, King Memorial--it invaded the train, pressing into the aisles, hovering over filled seats, their hands curled around ceiling handrails like somnolent birds. In the city, the tram emptied stop by stop and the morning crowd flowed out onto the sidewalks and divided itself into thin streams at crossing lights.
Aaron was part of the train ride and the crush of bodies and the hurrying, and he did not like it. He did not have the bravery for crowds. Had never had it. He had always felt uncomfortable and awkward and embarrassed. His mother had explained that it was not an affliction, but shyness-that shy people were gentle (too gentle, she said) and that someday he would accept the tranquillity of Ids nature. His mother was also shy; she wouldnot leave her home alone.
An older man in an expensive raincoat over an expensive suit sat beside Aaron on the train seat, reading the morning newspaper. The man had an umbrella wedged between his legs and Aaron's legs, and Aaron remembered the morning--it was in November--that a woman's eye had been stabbed by the metal rib of an umbrella opened quickly and carelessly. The man who held the umbrella had stared irritably at the woman and then had turned and walked briskly away from the sound of her screaming.
In the rain, the morning crowd was always more violent.
Aaron stared at the window beside his face. He saw his pale reflection simmering in the wet glass. A string of water, like a clear, bloodless capillary, ran across his mirrored forehead, through his eye, and over the comer of his mouth. From the seat behind him, he heard the voices of two boys. They were talking of the Atlanta Hawks.
"Man, they ain't got Mutombo, they ain't got nothing."
"What about Mookie?"
"He's all right, but Mutombo's the man. Best thing they ever done was get Mutombo."
"He's good. I ain't saying he ain't."
"That's who I play like: Mutombo. You come down the middle on me, I kick ass and do the finger-wave."
Aaron turned his head slightly and looked into the window behind him. In the reflection, he saw the boys. One was black, tall, broad-shouldered, his nose braided with a gold pin. The other was white, a slight build, his hair pulled into a pigtail. They were laughing, bobbing their bodies to an unheard music. Aaron knew the black boy.
His name was Doobie. That was what he was called. Maybe not his real name, but his called name. Doobie. He had played on the high school basketball team and had been in Aaron's algebra class. Once, he had borrowed a pencil from Aaron, but never returned it.
"Yeah, Mutombo," the white boy said. "You Mutombo, all right. You more like Spud Webb."
The two laughed easily. The boy who would be Dikembe Mutombo, the giant, made a motion of dunking a basketball, his long arm flying up and downward in the wavering reflection of the window. "Swissssh," he said.
Aaron turned his face from the window and listened to the laughter behind him crawl over the seat and fall on his shoulders. Though the house that his parents had bought ten years earlier had a basketball goal in the backyard, Aaron had never owned a basketball. He had never taken a shot at a basket. He had only dreamed of being a basketball player. Sometimes when he saw basketball games on television, he imagined that he was a player, leaping with grace through the shout-filled air of a gymnasium, the ball leaving his fingertips in a splendid arc. And in those moments--in the flickering, slow-motion beauty of his dream-Aaron understood the breathless sensation of celebration, the song of joy from people seized by awe.
There goes Aaron Greene.
Aaron Greene can fly. He has wings.
Aaron, Aaron, let me ouch you. Let me touch you.
The people would reach with their fingers of praise as he walked among them and their fingers would slide over him like a warm wind.
In the flickering, slow-motion beauty of his dream, Aaron Greene was a god.
Aaron looked again at himself in the rain-streaked window of the train. The person he saw could not fly. There were no fingers of praise clawing for him. The person he saw was small and afraid.Kidnapping of Aaron Green, The. Copyright © by Terry Kay. Reprinted by permission of HarperCollins Publishers, Inc. All rights reserved. Available now wherever books are sold.
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I love it when I come across a lesser known book or one I've never heard of, and it turns out to be a very good read. That's what 'The Kidnapping of Aaron Greene' is. I had a hard time putting this one down. Obviously, the theme and overlying question of the story is 'What is a 'nobody' worth?' And that in itself leads to a very good and suspenseful story. But I was impressed also with the way Terry Kay incorporated other dynamics of human life into the story as well. He addresses friendship, love, and even hate. Not only does the reader get to see that through the characters, he/she gets to feel it. I mean, who wouldn't feel like taking a sledgehammer to Katie Harris' microphone? And who couldn't feel good about the type of friendship Yates and Menotti have; or the one with Carla and Aaron; or how about Cody and Millie? Throw in some humorous moments, and Kay does a good job of writing a complete story full of suspense, excitement, and feeling. All of the storylines are interesting, and they all come together in a wonderful, yet unexpected conclusion. This was the first Terry Kay novel that I've read, and it most certainly won't be the last.
My husband and I read this book together and we both have recomended it any time someone asks for a new book. It is gripping and keeps your attention from the beggining.
Terry Kay leaves his usual rural settings for an urban mystery. The book asks the question: What would happen if a 'nobody' was kidnapped and held for ransom? Kay does a masterful job of developing his characters, and the plot twists are intelligent. Very creative story from one of America's best authors.