At 25, former policewoman Kate Jeffers has learned the value of restraint, and the consequences for its lack. Not dishonorably, she channels ambition and apparent psychic abilities into freelance detective work, while maintaining a professional relationship with Lieutenant (once detective) Whitaker, of Atlanta’s Metro Police. Kate becomes involved in finding and recovering kidnapped Eddie Bryant, an eight-year-old taken from local Wenn Park.
The boy can’t be described as “precocious,” but does hold up under extreme uncertainty and the casual bluntness of his treatment. Scenes featuring Eddie, despite the involuntary residence, are enhanced by humorous set-ups which only amplify the sense of impending doom, for not often do child kidnappings end as we’d all wish. As a young student cultivating her “gift,” Kate sees, for good or ill, the necessity to conceal it and must develop the capacity to filter emotion. Pondering how best to employ the singular skill, she aims for police work, and confronts what William Faulkner described as “the human heart in conflict with itself.”
Lt. Whitaker’s high empathy is a welcome change from the seemingly relentless ranks of law enforcement types portrayed as little more than rigidly pathologized gun machines. His widower status results from an event so horrible anyone can see the feedback loop: strong people devoted not only to “law,” but the deeper drive to preserve community and meaning—no caustic ego required. Risk is constant; refusing it even worse. Kate’s visions don’t manifest as gentle messengers, and soon haunt her with—she hopes—useful clues. Particularly unsettling is a 13-year mystery connecting the car-crash death of Kate’s parents with drug-dealer Lou Mancini, and individuals even worse than him. Kate’s common openness graces her with comrades such as Glory (an arch parking-garage attendant), bouncer Ronnie (an earlier threat), and bar owner Papa (“interesting” face notwithstanding).
While the closing pages give a facile linking of players and plot points, the story’s grip, intelligence, revelation of the abductor’s personal torment, and trope-smashing finale render this mostly forgivable.
~William Grabowski for IndieReader