Method 15/33

Method 15/33

by Shannon Kirk


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2015 National Indie Excellence Award Winner for Best Suspense Novel

2015 School Library Journal Best Adult Books for Teens (1 of only 17 Novels Selected)

2016 IBPA Benjamin Franklin Awards Gold Winner Mystery/Suspense

Imagine a helpless, pregnant 16-year-old who's just been yanked from the serenity of her home and shoved into a dirty van. Kidnapped…Alone…Terrified.

Now forget her…

Picture instead a pregnant, 16-year-old, manipulative prodigy. She is shoved into a dirty van and, from the first moment of her kidnapping, feels a calm desire for two things: to save her unborn son and to exact merciless revenge.

She is methodical—calculating— scientific in her plotting. A clinical sociopath? Leaving nothing to chance, secure in her timing and practice, she waits—for the perfect moment to strike. Method 15/33 is what happens when the victim is just as cold as the captors.

The agents trying to find a kidnapped girl have their own frustrations and desires wrapped into this chilling drama. In the twists of intersecting stories, one is left to ponder. Who is the victim? Who is the aggressor?

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781608091867
Publisher: Oceanview Publishing
Publication date: 06/14/2016
Edition description: Reprint
Pages: 258
Sales rank: 432,699
Product dimensions: 6.00(w) x 8.90(h) x 0.70(d)

About the Author

Shannon Kirk is a practicing attorney and a law professor. She attended West Virginia Wesleyan and St. John’s Universities, is a graduate of Suffolk Law School, and was a trial lawyer in Chicago prior to moving to Massachusetts.  She has been honored three times by the Faulkner Society in the William Faulkner-William Wisdom Creative Writing Competition.  She lives in Massachusetts with her husband, a physicist, and their son.  Method 15/33 was Kirk's debut novel.  Foreign rights have now been sold in 20 countries.

Read an Excerpt

Method 15/33

A Novel

By Shannon Kirk

Oceanview Publishing

Copyright © 2015 Shannon Kirk
All rights reserved.
ISBN: 978-1-60809-145-4



I lay there on the fourth day plotting his death. Compiling assets in a list in my mind, I found relief in the planning ... a loose floor board, a red knit blanket, a high window, exposed beams, a keyhole, my condition ...

I remember my thoughts then as though I am reliving them now, as though they are my present thoughts. There he is outside the door again, I think, even though it's been seventeen years. Perhaps those days will forever be my present because I survived so completely in the minutiae of each hour and each second of painstaking strategy. During that indelible time of torment, I was all on my own. And, I must say now, with no lack of pride, my result, my undeniable victory, was no less than a masterpiece.

On Day 4, I was well into a catalog of assets and a rough outline of revenge, all without aid of pen or pencil, solely the mental sketchpad of piecing together potential solutions. A puzzle, I knew, but one I was determined to solve ... a loose floorboard, a red knit blanket, a high window, exposed beams, a keyhole, my condition ... How do they fit together?

Over and over I reconstituted this enigma and searched for more assets. Ah yes, of course, the bucket. And yes, yes, yes, the box spring is new, he did not remove the plastic. Okay, again, go over it again, figure it out. Exposed beams, a bucket, the box spring, the plastic, a high window, a loose floorboard, a red knit blanket, the ...

I assigned numbers to give a dose of science. A loose floorboard (Asset #4), a red knit blanket (Asset #5), plastic ... The collection seemed as complete as possible at the start of Day 4. I would need more, I figured.

The sound of the pine floor rattling outside my jail cell, a bedroom, interrupted me about midday. He's definitely out there. Lunch. The latch moved from left to right, the keyhole turned, and in he burst without the decency of even a pause at the threshold.

As he had at every other meal, he dropped a tray on my bed of now familiar food, a white mug of milk, and a child-sized cup of water. No utensils. The slice of egg and bacon quiche collided with the homemade bread on the plate, a disk of china with a rose-colored toile of a woman with a pot and a feather-hat-wearing man with a dog. I loathed that plate to such an unnatural depth, I shudder to remember. The backside said "Wedgwood" and "Salvator." This will be my fifth meal on this salvation. I hate this plate. I will kill this plate too. The plate, the mug, and the cup looked to be the same ones I had used for breakfast, lunch, and dinner on Day 3 in captivity. The first two days I spent in a van.

"More water?" he asked, in his abrupt, dull and deep, monotone.

"Yes, please."

He started this pattern on Day 3, which, I believe, is what kicked off my plotting in earnest. The question became part of the routine, him bringing my meal and asking if I wanted more water. I decided to say "yes" when he asked and steeled myself to say "yes" each time, although this sequence made no sense. Why not bring a larger cup of water to begin with? Why this inefficiency? He leaves, locks the door, pipes clang in the hall walls, a spit and then a burst of water from the sink, out of eyesight through the keyhole. He's back with a plastic cup of lukewarm water. Why? I can tell you this—many things in this world are unsolved, as is the rationale behind many of my jailer's inexplicable actions.

"Thank you," I said upon his return.

I had decided from Hour 2 of Day 1 that I'd try to feign a schoolgirl politeness, be thankful, for I soon discovered I could outwit my captor, a man in his forties. Must be forty-something, he looks the same age as my dad. I knew I had the wits to beat this horrible, disgusting thing, and I was just Sweet Sixteen.

Lunch on Day 4 tasted like lunch on Day 3. But perhaps the sustenance gave me what I needed because I realized I had many more assets: time, patience, undying hatred, and I noted, as I drank the milk from the thick restaurant mug, the bucket had a metal handle and the handle ends were sharp. I need only remove the handle. It can be a separate asset from the bucket. Also, I was high in the building, not below ground, as I had first anticipated, on Days 1 and 2, I would be. By the crown of the tree outside my window and the three flights of stairs it took to get here, I was most surely on a third floor. I considered height another asset.

Strange, right? I had not yet grown bored by Day 4. Some might think sitting alone in a locked room would cause a mind to give way to dementia or delusion. But I was lucky. My first two days were spent traveling, and by some colossal mistake or severe error in judgment, my captor used a van for his crime and this van had tinted side windows. Sure, no one could see in, but I could see out. I studied and committed our route to the logbook in my mind, details I never actually used, but the work of transcribing and burning the data to eternal memory occupied my thoughts for days.

If you asked me today, seventeen years later, what flowers were growing by the ramp of Exit 33, I'd tell you, wild daisies mixed with a healthy dose of devil's paintbrush. For you I'd paint the sky, a misty blue-gray rolling into a smudged mud. I'd re-enact the sudden action as well, such as the storm that erupted 2.4 minutes after passing the patch of flowers, when the black mass overhead opened in a fit of spring hail. You would see the pea-sized ice-balls, which forced my kidnapper to park under an overpass, say "son-of-a-bitch" three times, smoke one cigarette, flick the spent butt, and begin our trek again, 3.1 minutes after the first hail ball crashed the hood of that criminal van. I morphed forty-eight hours of these transportation details into a movie I replayed every single day of my captivity, studying each minute, each second, each and every frame, for clues and assets and analysis.

The van's side window and how he left me, sitting and able to survey our progress, led to a quick conclusion: the harbinger of my incarceration was a witless monkey on autopilot, a soldier drone. But I was comfortable in an armchair he'd bolted to the floor of the van. Suffice it to say, despite his many protests to my sagging blindfold, he was either too lazy or too distracted to tie the oil cloth properly and I, therefore, ascertained our direction from the passing signs: west.

He slept 4.3 hours the first night. I slept 2.1. We took Exit 74 after two days and one night of driving. And don't even ask about the colossal embarrassment of bathroom breaks at deserted rest stops.

When our trail came to an end, the van rolled slowly down the exit ramp, and I decided to count sets of sixty. One Mississippi, Two Mississippi, Three Mississippi ... 10.2 sets of Mississippi later, we parked, and the engine sputtered in a lurching stop. 10.2 minutes from the highway. From the topmost corner of my drooping blindfold, I made out a field cast in a twilight gray and glazed with a swath of full-moon white. The wisp-scratch branches of a tree draped around the van. A willow. Like Nana's. But this isn't Nana's house.

He's at the side of the van. He's coming for me. I'll have to leave the van. I don't want to leave the van.

I jumped at the loud metal-on-metal scrape and bang of the van door sliding open. We're here. I guess we're here. We're here. My heart ticked to the beat of a hummingbird's wings. We're here. Sweat accumulated at my hairline. We're here. My arms lost all slack, and my shoulders stiffened to straight, forming a capital T with my spine. We're here. And my heart again, I might have trembled the earth to quake, I might have roiled the sea to tsunami, with that rhythm.

A country breeze whooshed in as though rushing past my captor to console me. For a quick second, I became washed in a cool caress, but his presence loomed and broke the spell almost as soon as it came. He was partially masked to me, of course, given the half-on, half-off blindfold, yet I felt him stall and stare. What must I look like to you? Just a young girl, duct-taped to an armchair in the back of your shit van? Is this normal for you? You fucking imbecile.

"You don't scream or cry or beg me like the others did," he said, sounding like he'd grasped some epiphany he'd been struggling with for days.

I turned my head fast toward his voice, as though possessed, intending in my motion to un-nerve him. I'm not sure if I did, but I believe he shimmied backwards a fraction.

"Would that make you feel better?" I asked.

"Shut the fuck up, you crazy little bitch. I don't give a shit what you fucking sluts do," he said loudly and fast, as though reminding himself of his position of control. From the high decibel of his agitation, I surmised we were alone, wherever we were. This can't be good. He's safe yelling here. We're alone. Just the two of us.

By the tilt of the van, I could tell he grabbed hold of the doorframe and hoisted himself in. He grunted from the exertion, and I took stock of his labored smoker's breathing. Typical, worthless, fat slob. Shadows and slices of his movement came toward me, and a silvery sharp object in his hand glistened under the overhead light. As soon as he got into my space, I smelled him, an old sweat, the stench of three-day-old body odor. His breath was like fetid soup on the air. I winced, turned toward the tinted window, and plugged my nostrils by holding my breath.

He cut the duct tape melding my arms to the bolted chair and put a paper bag over my head. Ah shit-breath, so you realize the blindfold doesn't work.

Comfortable in the evil I came to accept in that traveling armchair, I had no clue what was in store for me. Nevertheless, I did not protest our move into what must have been a farm. Given the aftermath scent of cows grazing all day and the high blades and stalks that slapped my legs, I reasoned we entered a field of hay or wheat.

The night air of Day 2 cooled my arms and chest, even through my lined, black raincoat. Despite the bag and the drooping cloth on my face, light from the moon illuminated our trek. With his gun on my spine, and me leading a blinded way with only the moon as my pull, we waded through knee-high stalks of America's grain for one set of sixty. I stepped high so as to punctuate my counting; he sloshed behind in a gunman's shuffle. And such was our two-person parade: one, swish, two, swish, three, swish, four.

I compared my sorrowful march to the watery death of mariners sentenced to the gangplank and considered my first asset: terra firma. Then the terrain changed, and I no longer sensed the moon's presence. The ground gave a bit with my unnecessarily forced and heavy steps, and, by the sprinkle of dry dust around my exposed ankles, I supposed I was on a loose dirt path. Tree limbs scratched my arms on both sides.

No light + no grass + dirt path + trees = Forest. This is not good.

My neck pulse and my heartbeat seemed to catch separate rhythms, as I remembered the Nightly News' account of another teen, who they found in the woods in some other state, far from me. How distant her tragedy seemed to me then, so displaced from reality. Her hands were severed, her innocence taken, her carcass dumped in a shallow grave. The worst part was the evidence of coyotes and mountain lions, who took their share under the evil winks of devil-eyed bats and the mournful glare of night owls. Stop this ... count ... remember to count ... keep the count ... focus ...

These dreadful thoughts caused me to lose my place. I've lost count. Pushing my horror aside, I steeled myself, swallowed a jug of air, and slowed the hummingbird in my chest, just like my dad taught me in our father-daughter Jiu-Jitsu and tai chi classes and just like the lessons in the medical school books, which I kept in my laboratory in our basement.

Given my quick blip of fear upon entering the forest, I recalibrated the count by three digits. After one set of sixty in the dense wood, we skidded into short grass and back under the unencumbered illumination of the moon. This must be a clearing. This is not a clearing. Is this? This is pavement. Why didn't we park here? Terra firma, terra firma, terra firma.

We hit another patch of short grass and stopped. Keys clattered; a door opened. Before I forgot the numbers, I calculated and logged the total time from the van to this door: 1.1 minutes, walking.

I did not get the opportunity to inspect the exterior of the building we entered, but I pictured a white farmhouse. My captor led me immediately up stairs. One flight, two flights ... Upon landing on the third floor, we turned 45 degrees left, walked three steps, and stopped again. The keys clanked. A bolt slid. A lock popped. A door creaked. He removed the bag and blindfold and pushed me into my confines, a 12' x 24' room, with no way out.

The space was lit by the moon through a high triangular window on the wall to the right of the door. To the front was a queen-sized mattress on a box spring, directly on the floor, but strangely surrounded by a wood frame with sides and slats and rungs and all. It seemed like someone ran out of energy or perhaps forgot the boards for the box spring and mattress to rest upon. Thus the bed was like a canvas that had not yet been secured, only rested crooked within its picture frame. A white cotton coverlet, one pillow, and a red knit blanket dressed the makeshift bed. Above spanned three exposed beams, parallel to the door: one over the threshold, the other cutting the rectangular room in two, and the third running over my bed. The ceiling was cathedral and so, with the exposed beams, one could surely hang—if they so chose. There was nothing else. Eerily clean, eerily sparse, a quiet hiss was the only decoration. Even a monk would have felt bare in this vacuum.

I went straight to the floor mattress, as he pointed out a bucket as a bathroom if I had "to piss or shit" in the night. The moon pulsed upon his departure, as though it too let out the air it was holding in its galactic lungs. In a brighter room, I flopped backwards, exhausted, and schooled myself on my roller-coaster emotions. From the van, you went from anxiety, to hatred, to relief, to fear, to nothing. Get even or you won't win this. As with any of my experiments, I needed a constant and the only constant I could have was steady detachment, which I endeavored to keep, along with copious doses of disdain and unfathomable hatred, if those ingredients were needed to maintain the constant. What with the things I heard and saw in my confinement, those additives were indeed necessary. And easy to come by.

If there is one talent I honed in captivity, whether seeded by divine design, by osmosis from having lived in my mother's steel world, by instruction from my father in the art of self-defense, or the natural instinct of my condition, it was akin to that of a great war general's: a steady, disaffected, calculating, revengeful, and even demeanor.

This level repose was not new to me. In fact, in grade school, a counselor insisted I be examined due to the administration's concern over my flat reactions and apparent failure to experience fear. My first-grade teacher was bothered because I didn't wail or jump, screech or scream—like everyone else did—when a gunman opened fire on our classroom. Instead, as the video surveillance showed, I inspected his jerky hysterics, slicks of sweat, pockmarked complexion, enlarged pupils, frantic eye movements, track-lined arms, and, thankfully, fruitless aim. I recall to this day, the answer was so clear, he was drugged, skittish, high on acid or heroin, or both—yes, I knew the symptoms. Behind the teacher's desk was her emergency bullhorn on a shelf under the fire alarm, so I walked over to both. Before pulling the alarm, I shouted "AIR RAID" through the horn, in as deep a six-year-old voice I could muster. The meth-head dropped to the ground, cowering in a puddle of himself as he pissed his pants.

The video, which placed the issue of my evaluation on the front-burner, showed my classmates bawling in huddles, my teacher on her knees imploring God above her, and me atop a stool, trigger fingering the bullhorn at my hip, and hovering as though directing the mayhem. My pig-tailed head was cocked to the side, my arm with the bullhorn across my baby-fat belly, the other up to my chin, and I had a subtle grin matching the almost wink in my eye, approving of the policemen who pounced upon the culprit.


Excerpted from Method 15/33 by Shannon Kirk. Copyright © 2015 Shannon Kirk. Excerpted by permission of Oceanview Publishing.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.

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Method 15/33 4.4 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 41 reviews.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I was blown away by this book. It's a fresh and intricate plot that grips you and pulls you in. Lisa's chapters propelled me thru this book and I loved being inside her head. The chapters from Agent Lui's perspective were a little dry, but I think it was from wanting to get back to Lisa's story and not because it wasn't well written. Overall, it was an awesome thriller and would make a great movie! Loved it!
WhisperingStories More than 1 year ago
Opening straight into the plot, on day four of her kidnap ordeal, Lisa, a heavily pregnant sixteen year old is locked up in a small room. She isn’t your typical sixteen year old though, She’s very methodical in the manner in which she thinks, plus she can turn her emotions on and off like a light switch. Using her know how, Lisa starts making an itinerary, thus mentally, of all the assets that she has in the room to help her escape her captor. From a loose floorboard, to a red blanket, each asset is also given a number, and over time the list of assets grows. It’s only a matter of time until all the assets, and a foolproof plan is in place, then she will execute her plan to kill her captor and all those associated with him. Will Lisa’s escape her captor, save her unborn child, and bring a kidnapping ring down in the process? ‘The Method’ is told by Lisa, seventeen years after her ordeal, talking directly to you, the reader. Shannon Kirk’s writing style did take some getting used to at first, but it quickly became the norm. The book is told from two perspectives, Lisa, and Special Agent Roger Liu, with his partner Lola, who are on the case of another missing pregnant teenager. Lisa is a not your usual protagonist, as she is hard to get to know, and hard to fully like. You do feel sorry for her, but there was no connection to her, like most lead characters. The book is gripping and certainly a page turner. It’s the originality of the story that had me hooked. There has been many kidnap stories written over the years, and although I have read a lot with characters who have escaped their captors, none has gone all out to outsmart and kill them with what can only be described as assassin like qualities. Fast paced, suspenseful, thought provoking, and at times brutal, plus a twist you will definitely not see coming is what makes this book a must read for 2017.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Not at all what I expected & that's what kept me reading from start to finish on New Year's Day!
BuriedUnderBooks More than 1 year ago
Well, this is an odd turn of events. Just yesterday, I reviewed a book about a young woman's fight back when she's held captive. Today, I'm reviewing a book about a young woman's fight back when she's held captive. And there the comparisons end. This time, the reason the girl has been taken is not because the usual really bad guy wants to hurt her in his own "special" ways. Sixteen-year-old Lisa is being held because she's blonde, blue-eyed and pregnant, making her baby worth quite a premium. Ms. Kirk has taken a fairly common theme in crime fiction and given it a very interesting twist---her protagonist is almost as creepy as her captor, especially in the unnerving way she seems able to turn her emotions on and off. She's also very clever at finding uses for odd items and, when the FBI finally arrives, they just might find the captive has gotten the better of her captors. FBI agents Roger Lui and his partner, Lola, are interesting characters on their own merits, especially Liu with his hyperthymesia, an extremely rare condition causing him to remember his own past in great detail. As for Lisa, one might wonder if she's a sociopath or just a very intelligent girl with an inventive mind and the ability to focus on the needs at hand without getting distracted by such unimportant things as fear or loneliness and certainly not by remorse. Lisa is a protagonist I'm not likely to forget and I'm getting a bit tired after having two books in a row keep me up all night ;-) To say anything more would mean spoiling the things that make this book so terrific so I'll just Method 15/33 as soon as you can.
VickiLN More than 1 year ago
Wow! This was quite a twist on a kidnapping scheme. The kidnapper was used to girls who were the epitome of victim, but when he kidnapped Lisa he grabbed the wrong girl. She could turn her emotions off and on at will. She had a keen eye and mind for the smallest detail, things almost everyone else wouldn’t take notice of. She was cold and calculating. And she was going to escape with her baby no matter what it took. When she was thrown in the van he blindfolded her but she could still see since he didn’t tie it tight enough. She made sure to pay attention where they went so she’d know where she was taken and how to get back when she escaped. Once they got to where he was going to keep her, she decided to be the perfect victim. She said please and thank you and made him think she was going to be no problem at all. And that’s exactly what he thought. Boy was he wrong! I’m really struggling on what to add, I don’t want to give anything away. There are so many twists and more characters come into the story. I guess I’ll finish with this was one of those books that I’ll remember for a very long time. It is probably going to be re-read a few times. I’ve read a lot of books with a kidnapping theme, but this was so different that my mind is still trying to process it. Yes, other books have had the person kidnapped escape and get revenge but this book this character was even more manipulative than the kidnapper. This book reminds me of Still Missing by Chevy Stevens. Both are first novels for the authors. Both are about kidnappings. Both women get revenge. I loved Still Missing, but this book takes the main character to another level. If you love books like this then get a copy now. It was amazing!
Anonymous 5 days ago
One of the best books I've read in a while, refreshingly original and intriguing. I loved the main character and couldn't wait to see how she would work out this puzzle. The story is primarily told from her POV, but occasionally from that of the FBI agents; those parts were also well-written but less compelling interludes while I was anxious to get back to Lisa's story. The book doesn't lend itself to a sequel (another refreshing thing!) but I would be interested to read more from this writer.
Karen Jones-Zach 6 days ago
Riveting, edge of seat, can't put down.
Linda Bakunas 17 days ago
I found most of this book exciting, however the last part just rambled on, just boring.
doggonefool 18 days ago
What a twisted roller coaster ride... And just when you think it's done, off you go looping and spinning away again! This was a GREAT read
Lois VanDyke 18 days ago
Amazing Story line. Unlike any book I've read. Lisa is a fascinating character and I was enthralled by her. A must unlikely heroine.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Not very often I give 5 stars but this book deserves it. It kept me up all night reading. Never had that happened. Don’t miss it.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
It was good enough to finish but there was a lot of awkward bits
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
The story itself is a bit gruesome, but the voice of the story teller makes it a pleasure and a page turner.
HarlanRoberts More than 1 year ago
This book is an AMAZING piece of art. The plot, dialogue, characterizations all hit the bullseye. In some cases, within the book, that is a literal statement. I came into work early today and finished the final two chapters. And now, I can rest. I can sleep well tonight, having finished this wonderful roller coaster ride. And then, tomorrow, well, I have a fever, and the only prescription is: Another Shannon Kirk book.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Could not put down. Read straight through.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Could not put it down
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Well written and fast paced. Ant wait to read the authors next book.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Loved the main character’s uniquely scientific personality!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Kept my attention throughout.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Well written, good pacing and wrapped up conclusively. I plowed through this quickly and would definitely read additional books by Shannon.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Excellent, couldn't put it down!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Good basic writing; unique heroine
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Loved this book for all the rich details that brought such depth to the story.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I? really enjoyed this book. It was suspenseful but also had me laughing at some parts. Definitely worth reading.