While there have been previous retakes on the concept of Peter Pan, Wendy, and the Lost Boys, Neil Ruttenberg’s version NEVER GROW UP is a far cry from the rest. This high-octane read would be more accurately described as a crime thriller rather than an ‘action/adventure’ novel as currently labeled, for the tale revolves around depraved pedophiles and serial killers, with an overabundance of blood and gore flowing throughout its pages. In terms of plot, one particularly unhealthy individual fancies himself a never-going-to-grow-up incarnation of Peter Pan. Preying upon homeless youth to fill out his army of loyally violent Lost Boys, this Pan has connections in high–as well as international places–so a steady stream of teenaged girls are thus kidnapped to play the part of Wendy until their 18th birthdays, at which time they will be sacrificed in a manner intended to free them from the confines of Time, while simultaneously keeping the aging Peter Pan eternally young. Many ‘Wendys’ have already died in this manner.
Enter Croc, the one that got away. And Roger Hook, former high profile A-List crime show producer. Pushing 40 now and no longer on any kind of Hollywood lists at all, Hook’s been scrolling the murder blogs, looking for a story with legs–a story that might rocket Hook and his career to a comeback. Finding out about a missing girl found in a shallow grave, her mouth full of glitter, just might be his lucky break. A timely subject–with burgeoning hordes of abused, runaway youth living on the streets, ever-growing numbers of women and girls missing worldwide and well-established sex trafficking cults apparently set up to service clientele that includes folks in positions with enough powerful to halt thorough investigations–the only thing that might have made this book better would have been a bit less gratuitously graphic bloodshed. Another plus would have been a bit more in-depth probing into the behind-the-scenes details regarding those who manage to keep criminals like this fictional Peter Pan–and the real-life Weinsteins, Epsteins, and Ranieres–away from prosecution for decades.
With beloved characters such as Tink appearing in the form of a wheelchair-bound homicidal maniac, Neil Ruttenberg’s riveting crime novel, NEVER GROW UP, features a disturbed and disturbing serial-killer in a version of ‘Peter Pan’ that is quite relevant to what’s actually befalling way too many young people in society today.
~C.S. Holmes for IndieReader