Author: Tamara Hart Heiner
Publication: WiDo Publishing (November 16, 2010)
Description: Jaci Rivera has plans for her sophomore year-- to make the honor roll and eat too much pizza with her best friends, Callie and Sara. Her biggest concern is Amanda, the pushy girl who just moved into town. What Jaci doesn't plan for is catching a notorious robber red-handed, or being kidnapped. The desperate thief drags her and her friends 2,000 miles across the Canadian border. Then Jaci finds something out about her family. Something which irrevocably connects her to their kidnapper, and makes her question their chances of escape.
My Thoughts: This was an interesting mystery story that tried to do too much. It was filled with tremendous amounts of action and had very little character development. It is told in two voices. Jaci and friends are describing their actions as they are kidnapped, escape, and make their way across country dodging a huge number of villains. The story also takes a look at the police officer who gets called in on the kidnapping case and who also travels across the country through many jurisdictions and into Canada trying to track down the missing girls.
Another plot thread has to do with Jaci's father. What is his business? Why does the villain know him? Where is he now? All of these issues are unresolved at the end of the story.
Still another plot thread and a potential red herring for the detective is that one of the kidnapped girls was adopted. He wonders if she was snatched by her birth family. Of course, in the course of their escape they manage to meet up with her older twin brothers who assist the girls with trying to get away from the villains.
The huge number of villains and their pervasiveness in just about every situation was a problem for me. The villain - The Hand - is purportedly a jewel thief who keeps under the radar. Where does he get the finances to hire such a huge crew of henchmen? It seems that he has infiltrated police stations for hundreds of miles around his home base.
The book ends without resolving a lot of the issues in the story. What will happen to Sara and her new-found brothers? Will it ever be safe for the girls to go home? Will law enforcement ever catch The Hand?.
He crouched down and moved the branches aside, breathing through his mouth. This never got any easier. The branches parted to reveal a young girl, features distorted by death but still recognizable. The open eyes stared blankly up at him. He released the branches and stood up, giving a nod. "Yes, it's one of them."The author will be visiting my blog on Jan. 10 and talking about the journaling she did as a high school student. I will also be giving away a copy of the book. Check back and meet Tamara Hart Heiner.
The case had just gone from a kidnapping to a homicide. And there were still three girls missing.