When forensic psychiatrist Jo Beckett and her partner, Gabe Quintana, in the course of an investigation come across six teenagers being corralled by a suspicious group of men for a "wilderness adventure," she senses that something is amiss. Far from being reassured when the teenagers tell her that they are simply part of a mock kidnapping designed to celebrate spoiled rich girl Autumn Reiniger's entrance into adulthood, Jo is anxious to depart and investigate further. Before they can leave, confusion erupts, and Jo and Gabe become unwitting members of the birthday group. They have ample experience surviving the elements, luckily, because they must formulate a daring plan to rescue the teenagers and unmask the players behind the kidnapping before it is too late. VERDICT In her eighth novel, Gardiner (The Dirty Secrets Club) spins a thrilling, fast-paced tale about what can happen when we tempt fate. Fans of Iris Johansen will enjoy Jo Beckett's propensity for knocking down trouble and landing squarely on her feet. [See Prepub Alert, 12/21/10.]—Natasha Grant, New York
Bay Area forensic psychiatrist Jo Beckett's fourth case (The Liar's Lullaby, 2010, etc.) finds her caught in the middle of a fantasy crime spree turned deadly.
Hedge-fund king Peter Reiniger is no ordinary father, and his 21st-birthday present to his thoroughly spoiled daughter Autumn is no ordinary gift. He's hired Edge Adventures to orchestrate a weekend scenario in which Autumn becomes the Queen of Crime and five of her best buds get to play the roles of her lawyer, her accomplices and her nemesis. But not even Edge's reputation for elaborate planning can prevent rogue financier Dane Haugen from stepping into the middle of this latter-day fairy tale and, motivated by some obscure harm he suffered at Reiniger's hands, kidnapping Autumn for real for $20 million. Jo and her main man, Sgt. Gabe Quintana, are on their way back from attorney Phelps Wylie's final resting place—an abandoned gold mine in which, Jo quickly rules, he certainly didn't commit suicide—when they stop to play Good Samaritan and are rewarded by getting taken captive along with Autumn and her friends. Not enough complications for you? Another freelance kidnapper plans to grab Autumn and company from Haugen's clutches, ransom Autumn and make short work of the supporting cast—one of whom has the bright idea of jumping the bad guys, turning a routine fake-kidnapping-turned-real into a fight for survival against armed criminals, rattlesnakes and every other wilderness peril you can imagine.
The mind-bogglingly improbable setup and the number of wild cards in the mix guarantee endless plot twists, most of them so diabolically engineered that you'll forget how wafer-thin the characters are.