Bantam, May 2003, 23.95, 340 pp.
Chadwick intends to send his teenage daughter Katherine to Cold Spring, a boot camp style school in Texas because she's addicted to heroin and running with the wrong crowd. Before he can do that she overdoses while she is baby-sitting five-year-old Mallory Zedman. The incident traumatizes the little girl who saw her beloved baby-sitter die.
Nine years later Mallory dates the boy whose brother supplied Katherine with heroin and is an addict too. Accompanied by Chadwick she is sent to Cold Springs, but once she arrives everything begins to fall apart. Mallory's mother has been accused of embezzling $27 million dollars. Mallory's father is tired of paying blackmail money and sends his bodyguard to kidnap his daughter so they can flee the country. Mallory becomes the target of a killer who has murdered anyone who has gotten in the way and the only person who can save her is Chadwick, who is a suspect in at least two homicide investigations.
Rick Riordan has written a crime thriller that ranks with the works of Patricia Cornwell, Dennis Lehane and Thomas Harris. Chadwick feels guilty for not acting sooner in saving his daughter and in Mallory he sees the hope for his redemption, The protagonist soon learns, almost too late, that only Mallory can save herself from her own destructive impulses. Although much of this novel takes place on an isolated school in Texas, it has the feel of an urban noir thriller. This is a must read for anyone who wants to read an unforgettable thriller starring a villain that matches the bite of Hannibal Lechter.
This report prepared by Harriet Klausner