Kidnapped (Irene Kelly Series #10)

Kidnapped (Irene Kelly Series #10)

by Jan Burke

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Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780743273862
Publisher: Pocket Books
Publication date: 09/25/2007
Series: Irene Kelly Series , #10
Edition description: Reprint
Pages: 400
Sales rank: 679,455
Product dimensions: 4.18(w) x 6.75(h) x 0.70(d)

About the Author

Jan Burke is the author of a dozen novels and a collection of short stories. She is the founder of the Crime Lab Project and is a member of the board of the California Forensic Science Institute. She lives in Southern California with her husband and two dogs. Learn more about her at

Date of Birth:

August 1, 1953

Place of Birth:

Houston, Texas

Read an Excerpt

1 Tuesday, May 9 8:07 a.m. Fletcher Graphic Design Las Piernas

Cleo Smith firmly believed that neatness counted, especially if you were going to get away with murder. Which was why she now stood completely naked, save for a pair of plastic booties and a pair of thin rubber gloves, in the office of the man she had just killed.

She calmly gathered the clothing she had worn to do the job and placed it in a plastic bag, along with the trophy used as the weapon. The trophy was a heavy, curving metal shape, about ten inches in height. An award her victim, Richard Fletcher, had won for excellence as a graphic artist.

A second bag contained the hypodermic needle she had used in the first few moments of the proceedings. To this bag she added the gloves.

She placed both bags inside a large canvas duffel. This she took with her as she went back to the studio area, admiring but not touching the works in progress in the large, open room. She walked quickly past the windows (blinds closed at this hour) and into the bathroom off the back of the studio.

Richard had designed everything about this office and studio, including the full bathroom and changing area. He had needed a place where he could clean up and change clothes before meeting clients or heading home for the day. This worked admirably for her purposes as well. Taking her own soap, shampoo, and towels from the duffel, she stepped into the shower. She removed the booties, placing them in the plastic bag that held the gloves and needle. She turned on the water, unfazed by the initial coldness of it, and began to cleanse off the inevitable biological debris that resulted from the chosen method of murder. Soon the water warmed. She leaned into the hard spray.

She did not fear interruption. Richard had been a free spirit in many ways, but his days followed a set, personally defined routine. His first three hours of the workday never included any appointments, and he was known for not answering the phone during those hours. She had placed a portable locking and alarm device on the front door, just in case. She had altered it slightly — if someone should try to get past it, it wouldn't screech the kind of high-decibel alarm that would draw unwanted attention. Instead, a remote, much quieter but audible alarm would sound in her nearby bag.

She scrubbed her long, lean, and muscular body. She prided herself on her peak physical condition. Her light brown hair was no more than half an inch long anywhere on her head; she had completely depilated the rest of her body. Her breasts were small — she would readily agree that she was flat-chested, had anyone had the nerve to say so to her face. Her nails were cut very short.

She was proud of the fact that she could easily imitate a male gait or stance, and with the slightest bit of disguise could fool anyone who was not a trained and attentive observer that she was male. With almost equal ease, she could signal femininity. These were just a few of her gifts.

She contemplated the murder, trying to identify any imperfections. One of the highest priorities had been that the victim feel no pain.

He had certainly not felt the blows that killed him. The last sensation he had known while conscious was most likely bewilderment. Perhaps a little stinging at the time of the injection, but there had been so little time for Richard to react before the drug took effect, he did not register much more than surprise. And maybe a bit of dismay.

Cleo Smith frowned and silently conceded that there were moments of anxiety — he did try so hard to move toward the door and did manage to say, "Jenny." Cleo had tried to calm him, but of course, at that point, he mistrusted her. Belatedly mistrusted her.

Still, he was unable to give more than minor resistance as Cleo steered him back to the desk. A second wave of worry came over Richard just after that, but the drug took full effect — he passed out cold while trying to stand up. It was Richard's final act of courtesy — there would be no need to reposition him.

So. Anxiety, to some degree, but not pain.

Cleo had made sure the blows demolished the point of injection. There was some chance that a toxicology report would be ordered, but even if the tests included the substance she used (highly unlikely), the result would not lead anyone back to her. The clothing she had worn during the murder did not belong to her.

Cleo stepped out of the shower and dried herself, put on a pair of men's socks, then used a new set of towels — never before used by her — to wipe down every surface of the shower and anything she might have touched in here.

She dressed in a new set of male clothes. The towels went into the plastic bag with the needle, gloves, and booties. A few necessary moments were spent examining the scene, ensuring that only the appropriate evidence remained.

She checked the time. Another two hours before discovery would most likely take place. One should never, she knew, rely on everything going smoothly.

She retrieved her portable lock and alarm. One last look back at Richard. She said a silent good-bye and pulled the door shut. She locked it, using a key she had taken from Richard's key ring. The clients would not expect to find the door locked at the time of their appointment. If they became angry rather than worried, and stormed off thinking Richard had forgotten their appointment, she would gain a little more lead time.

Eventually, though, the body would be discovered.

No time to linger. She had a busy day ahead of her.

Besides, she wanted a cigarette. She was not, in general, a smoker, but murder always made her want to light up.

She was perfectly aware of what a psychiatrist might have to say about that.

Copyright © 2006 by Jan Burke

Table of Contents

The Barnes & Noble Review
In Jan Burke's Irene Kelly mystery, reporter Irene and her homicide detective husband, Frank Harriman (Bloodlines, Bones, et al.), become involved in another complicated whodunit that revolves a brutal murder -- with a bizarre twist.

Five years ago, graphic artist Richard Fletcher was bludgeoned to death in his studio and his young daughter Jenny went missing. The case was considered solved when Fletcher's adopted son Mason was found miles away, intoxicated and in possession of the murder weapon. Jenny's body was never found and she was presumed dead. Now, five years later, Las Piernas Express reporter Kelly writes an article on missing children in the area -- an article that elicits an amazing number of calls from parents who are determinedly searching for their own missing kids. Then, when a rash of murders -- all of which have something to do with the Fletcher family -- uncovers information that could locate Jenny and vindicate the imprisoned Mason, Irene finds herself on a collision course with a sociopathic killer.

The fuel that powers Kidnapped is the shocking reality of missing children in America. According to statistics in the novel, a Department of Justice study in 1999 estimated that 797,500 children were reported missing that year -- that's more than 2,100 children per day, or 91 kids every hour. Burke's tale is as absorbing as it is alarming; mystery fans who are parents of young children in particular will be chilled to the bone. Paul Goat Allen


Michael Connelly Talks with Jan Burke

1. This is a very densely plotted book. I pictured you writing it with a PowerPoint outline and flow chart. My first question is about the construction of the novel. There are many characters, the story moves forward and backward at the same time. It's a marvel. How did you go about constructing it?

Thanks for presenting this image of me being so well-organized, although I can't understand how, knowing me, you've come to imagine it. I had no outline, let alone a PowerPoint version. A white board that carried a few roughly jotted notes about characters and clues as I went along is as close as I came to a flow chart. I let the characters tell me their stories and get one other into trouble. All appearances of organization are brought to you through the miraculous powers of revision.

2. I carry ideas around with me and find stories that will allow me to explore them. I don't know if that is the same with you but I wonder where the starting point for this story was. I guess this is a fancy way of asking where do you get your ideas.

It's much the same for me, I think. Sometimes it's imagining character who comes to me in some moment of thinking about a story idea. Caleb Fletcher came to mind early on in my process of creating Kidnapped. I knew he would be a young man who had not given up hope of finding his missing sister, and the life of his imprisoned brother would depend on his finding her alive. I had a fairly clear picture of Caleb in mind from the start, and wrote to get to know him better.

Questions arise in my mind, often while doing research, especially if some bit of information truly surprises me or otherwise makes me sit up and take notice. Sooner or later, a different sort of question comes to haunt me, one that begins with "what if...." In this case it was, "What if someone tried to create the perfect family?" And that's the one I explored.

3. In a big way this story taps into ideas of family and the heartbreak of missing and stolen children. The statistics in regard to this that are in the book are stunning. Its also a difficult subject to handle in a crime novel. What made you go in this direction?

Let me say first that I knew I wasn't going to write a book in which children were tortured or killed. Even knowing that, I was aware that I was still working with a difficult subject. For a number of reasons, personal and otherwise, real-life missing person's stories have always seemed to me among the most heart-wrenching. If you've ever spent time with anyone who is missing a child or other family member, you realize that this is a particular kind of hell all its own. And yet families of missing persons have historically been treated abysmally by law enforcement agencies, and the cases have often been given little regard. Although that is changing, in a great many jurisdictions, it is changing too slowly.

At the time I started researching Bloodlines, my previous book, I looked into studies on missing children. I learned that the FBI was not keeping statistics on kidnapping. (They are just now starting to implement a plan to do so.) That floored me. What? The agency we most often think of being called in on kidnapping cases isn't tracking them? The agency that produces annual studies on crime statistics doesn't include this one? But it was true. And when I realized how many children were reported missing in the years when any other government agencies collected statistics, I was shocked.

4. You and I came into this world of publishing around the same time. Sometimes I can't believe I am still here and have been allowed to come back repeatedly to the same character. That's the good part. The bad part, or rather the hard part, is to take that gift and challenge yourself and keep the series fresh. In this book I see at least part of the challenge was in the scope of the story. There are several points of view. Irene Kelly is of course front and center but we ride with other characters through integral parts of the story. Did I get that right? What was the challenge you threw down in front of yourself this time?

Oh, I agree -- I am so grateful to readers for allowing me to keep at this.

The challenge was primarily to write a story about kidnapping in which the captors -- although ruthless to adults -- would intend no harm to the children, would believe that they were giving the children a better life, greater advantages. And yet, you had to see how wrong even that part of their intentions would be, how little utopias go awry.

I have written multiple points of view for about half of my books, and all of the most recent ones, so I now tend to think in terms of telling a story that way. Each time out, though, this presents certain pitfalls one must avoid. You don't want to weaken the protagonist. You need to keep the characters' voices unique -- but of course, you have to do that in any story involving more than one character. Keeping the story in hand, making sure each of these points of view is moving the story forward, that is always a challenge.

Writing about children can be difficult, both because a writer can't just present the reader with miniature adults, or the other end of spectrum, poppets who are so darned precious you really need insulin on hand to manage the sugar load.

5. How would you describe your relationship with Irene?

She's one of my dearest friends. Don't worry -- I know she's imaginary. But I know things about her I could never know about another person, or even, perhaps, myself. I admire her and enjoy spending time with her. I like finding out what she's up to, what's on her mind, how she'll tackle a problem.

6. What is your best one-word description of Irene?


She's true to herself, to those she loves, to her ideals. "Resilient" would be a close second. There's a kind of courage in resiliency that rebuilds the world as needed.

7. One of my favorite lines and sentiments in the book is when Ben Sheridan, a forensic anthropologist, gets to the heart of reality versus perceived reality when he says, "And while maybe some guy on TV can get DNA out of anything and gets results in twenty minutes, that TV show probably gets more funding for an episode than our lab gets for an annual budget for DNA." This is a succinct way of getting to this thing that bothers all cops and coroners that I know, and a lot of crime novelists as well. Millions and millions of people watch television shows each week that portray forensics as a panacea instead of a tool. They are slaves to entertainment instead of accuracy and it leads to misconceptions about this important part of crime solving. Do you feel some sort of responsibility for setting the record right? In this book and some of those previously you obviously play close attention to this. The books are thoroughly and exhaustively researched.

You've described the problem perfectly.

For my part, I don't know if I would call it a responsibility for setting the record straight so much as concern. Concern about the daily consequences of the giant gap between public perceptions of forensic science and the reality. I care about that, so I write about that, and I try to do that without delivering sermons.

I understand the storyteller's dilemma here, and I don't blame writers who choose not to make all fiction into non-fiction -- often there are more opportunities for telling the essential truth in works of fiction. It's why we're still reading Jane Austen and not reading farm manuals from the same period. That said, I think there is plenty of dramatic possibility in realistic portrayals of the worlds we write about. Why not give these characters more realistic challenges to deal with, rather than putting them in a cotton candy world?

One of the best aspects of crime fiction's legacy is that it has, over its history, so often looked at society with an appraising eye. No need for blinkers.

8. Speaking of research, I can almost see the fun you had researching this one. How big a part is that for you? Would you rather write or research, or are they inseparable?

Oh, inseparable. I do have to be aware that research is my favorite form of procrastination. Still, I love to write, and the writing has led me to unexpected exploration. It happens like this: Suddenly, I become aware that Character X is a pilot who is happiest in his small plane. Next thing I know, I'm having conversations with pilots. The character gains depth because people are generous to me with their time.

9. Springing from your research and the hallmark of thoroughness in your work is your involvement is the Crime Lab Project. What exactly is that and how did it come about?

We're a nonprofit organization that advocates better support for public forensic science, and works to increase public awareness of the problems facing crime labs. At the end of 2003, I was invited to speak at the annual meeting of the American Society of Crime Lab Directors. They allowed me to sit in on most of the conference, and once again, I saw the huge difference between what the public believes about their local forensic science labs and what is really going on. Many lab directors were overwhelmed with backlogs and other problems, and not really sure how to get the message out.

It occurred to me that crime writers, who often receive research help from forensic scientists, could "pay it forward" by speaking up about this crisis, and could become advocates for crime labs. So I called you and a few other writers, and everyone I talked to said, "Yes, I'd like to help out." That was the beginning of the Crime Lab Project. By April of 2004, we had a Web site, and we put out a call for help from writers and producers and other interested individuals. Anyone could join, there were -- and still are -- no dues. All we asked of any member was that he or she take action.

Within a year, several hundred writers were involved, and last year we were endorsed by Sisters in Crime and Mystery Writers of America. Writers put links on their Web sites and handed out flyers, spoke about the CLP at speaking engagements, and forwarded our e-mail alerts to their readers. They blogged about labs. They wrote about labs. They mentioned labs in interviews. As a result, our membership grew to the thousands.

This year, we incorporated two nonprofits, the Crime Lab Project and the Crime Lab Project Foundation. We've seen increases in funding for forensic science, and greater media attention to the needs of labs and coroner's offices. The Coverdell Act, a grant program that helps labs, received much higher funding after we became involved. We have a forensic science news service and blog, and are adding new members every day. We're working the Consortium of Forensic Science Organizations to ensure we stay clear about their needs.

We invite anyone who cares about forensic science to join us. The price we pay -- and victims of crime pay -- for under-funded, understaffed labs in inadequate facilities is too high. It affects public safety, criminal justice, homeland security, product safety, workplace safety, public health, and many other areas of our lives.

A portion of the sales of Kidnapped will go to the Crime Lab Project, and my publisher has generously contributed as well.

10. I will finish with an old stand by. What is next for you and what is next for Irene Kelly?

I don't know yet. I'm working on something quite different at the moment, but I don't think I'll jinx it by saying more. I have no hesitation in saying that I will eventually write another book about Irene. I have a few more adventures in mind for her, and thank my readers for their continued interest in her.

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Kidnapped (Irene Kelly Series #10) 4 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 12 reviews.
Sunflower6_Cris on LibraryThing 5 months ago
After reading many of Jan Burke's books I've come to realize that they are very similar in theme and plot. Although they are good books, they are somewhat predictable and could be boring. This book was easy to read and I finished it in 4 days.
Menagerie on LibraryThing 5 months ago
In the most recent Irene Kelly novel, Burke once again pulls together the characters from previous books and brings them along for the bumpy ride through Las Piernas' most recent murder mystery. Strangely absent from the last couple of books is Pete, Frank's partner and best bud, and Burke is remiss in not explaining the popular character's continued absence. In this outing, a family that started out as a haven for foster and homeless kids has morphed into something much more menacing. Irene uncovers their plan to create the 'best' family members and discovers the extreme lengths they will go to to accomplish their goals. There are some loose ends that don't quite tie up as nicely as in past Kelly novels, but this is still an enjoyable read and a decent installment in the Kelly series.
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Sunflower6_Cris More than 1 year ago
After reading many of Jan Burke's books I've come to realize that they are very similar in theme and plot. Although they are good books, they are somewhat predictable and could be boring. This book was easy to read and I finished it in 4 days.
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GailCooke More than 1 year ago
Life's short and there are so many good books that if a story doesn't grab me by the first chapter, it's just put aside. Edgar Award winning author Burke didn't need a chapter - just two pages - actually opening lines: 'Cleo Smith firmly believed that neatness counted, especially if you were going to get away with murder. Which was why she now stood completely naked, save for a pair of plastic booties and a pair of thin rubber gloves, in the office of the man she had just killed.' With 'Kidnapped,' her tenth suspense novel, Jan Burke has outdone herself. After the murder and any telltale traces of evidence have been removed, the story flashes back to the fictional California town of Las Piernas and the Fletchers, outstanding citizens all. They're a large family, powerful, led by patriarch Graydon Fletcher after whom an exclusive private school has been named. He seems to be a model citizen, so concerned for the care of the young that he and his wife have adopted 21 children in all. However, every family has one they call a black sheep and, in the Fletcher's case, it would be Richard, an artist. He doesn't buy into the pattern drawn for the whole family and refuses to let his children tow the patriarchal line. Death comes too soon to him - he's found murdered in his studio. His three-year-old daughter, Jenny is missing as is his stepson, Mason. It only takes hours for the police to locate Mason as he has trashed his car in the San Bernardino mountains. With the murder weapon found in his car, Mason is convicted of killing his stepfather, Richard, and little Jenny. Only Caleb, his older brother believes he is innocent. Five years later Caleb is working in forensic science, and has been sent to study recently found remains - a puzzler as the deceased is supposedly hiding somewhere with the son he kidnapped several years ago. At about this same time reporter Irene Kelly has written an article about the number of child snatchings by relatives in Las Piernas, and she is sent to the site where Caleb is working. As it happens there is also new evidence about Jenny's disappearance. Someone will stop at nothing to make sure that Kelly and Caleb never discover the truth. Those who enjoy their mysteries with plot twists and dashes of forensic science will sit up all night turning the pages of 'Kidnapped.' - Gail Cooke
harstan More than 1 year ago
Five years ago Richard Fletcher was murdered, his head bashed in to disguise a bullet wound and his daughter Jenny disappeared. Jenny¿s brother Mason was found in the desert with drugs in his system and the murder weapon and bloody clothes in the back of his car. He was tried and convicted for the murder of his father and the kidnapping of Jenny. He was given life without parole but his brother Caleb believes his sibling is innocent. His mother remarries Richard¿s brother Nelson who has loved her for a lifetime.--------------------------- In the present Las Piernas News Express reporter Irene Kelley has written a story on missing children. She receives a multitude of calls from grieving parents including a heartbreaking one from Blade Ives who was married to former Express reporter Bonnie Crews. She also covers the story of a body being found by a cadaver dog belong to Sheila Polson, another Fletcher. When Irene visits Sheila at her home, she finds her murdered and sees a car driving away. As Irene tries to connect the dots that link the murders of Shelia and Richard, Jenny¿s disappearance and the buried body her life is in danger from someone who will kill to keep certain secrets buried.--------------------- Anytime Jan Burke writes an Irene Kelly mystery it is a time for rejoicing. Ms. Burk¿s novels continual back and forth moves from the third person point of view to the first and should be jolting but instead seems effortless as readers don¿t notice due in part to the author¿s creative style. Great characterizations unexpected twists and plenty of surprises pull the audience deep into the storyline and keep them there until they finish the book. Kidnapped is a fascinating work, deserving of an Edgar nomination.--------------- Harriet Klausner
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Should i get it????????