3.0 out of 5 stars - "Change your thoughts and you change the world."
The Beth Movies, featuring a young Kathleen (renamed Kick) Lannigan, are
"still the most downloaded child pornography on the internet." Abducted by Mel Riley when she was only 6, Kick was kept secluded and was sexually exploited until a dramatic FBI rescue brought the damaged little girl home. Now 10 years after her ordeal, Kick is 21 and has reinvented herself as a serious student of self defense. Expert with weapons of every kind and in peak physical condition, it's only her mind that still exhibits the toll though Kick has tried every type of therapy known. Estranged from her biological family, Kick and James (another abduction survivor) have used her settlement money to form a sort of investigation team using his computer skills and her insider knowledge of the child porn industry. Their goal is to try to find other missing or abducted children before it's too late. When a couple of children appear in Amber Alerts, Kick feels the familiar dread seep in, so when a mysterious man who calls himself John Bishop and says he needs her help with a job connected to the cases of Adam Rice and Mia Tuner, Kick finds herself in a helicopter back into remembered hell.
Does Kick have memories and skills that can help recover these two children and will this chance to help save some other child give her the relief she needs to assuage the guilt she feels because of what she did the night she was found. When the opportunity to see the dying Mel Riley in a prison infirmary brings back feelings she thought she had buried, she is more focused than ever on helping to make up for what she'd done and to release Mel's hold on her.
A bit uneven in pacing and with the ever popular damaged heroine protagonist, the novel moves along in spurts of present day interspersed with flashbacks that show only a little of what Kick's life was like during the years with Mel. It's quite obvious that Kick still has a lot to work through and needs much more psychological help. The relationship between Kick and Bishop is stereotypical and predictable. I never grew to develop any affinity for any of the characters despite the writing telling me I should, and never felt the threat of real evil or suspense in the story. The novel ends as you'd expect when knowing that this is the first book in a new series.
I've read all of Chelsea Cain's previous books and enjoyed part of the Archie and Gretchen story until it no longer made sense to me, so I was hoping this departure and fresh start would be a thriller in which I could rediscover some of the shock and awe that made the author's first books so addicting. Despite all the famous name gushing blurbs, this just didn't grab me or enthrall me as I'd wished. To be more specific of the ways it failed might produce spoilers, so I'll leave it to other readers to either agree with me or to have their own very diverse opinions. I'm not sure I'd read the second one.
Amazon Vine and NetGalley provided ARC copies of this book for review.