Simon Wood's Paying The Piper : a kidnap thriller that takes a different turn from the norm.
Recommend this product?
Eight years ago, "The Piper" went on a kidnapping spree. But in all cases, once the ransom was paid, the kids were returned, unharmed. Except for the last time. That time, reporter Scott Fleetwood had been contacted by a man who claimed to be The Piper. Scott and the FBI followed the caller's instructions to the letter. But, it wasn't the real Piper. It was just a hoax. And while the authorities were wasting time with the perpetrator of the hoax, the real Piper got frustrated, and killed the kid.
Now, The Piper is back. With a vengeance. He blames Scott for "making" him kill the kid, eight years ago. So he strikes back in the only way he knows how - he takes Scott's young son, and leaves Scott with near-impossible tasks to complete in order to ensure the kid's safety.
The book moves at breakneck speed as Scott, with the help of the FBI try to find The Piper in time. With help from an unlikely source - the father of the kid who was killed all those years ago - the team gets deeper and deeper into The Piper's web. There are false clues, red herrings, and booby traps galore.
This is a fast-paced story, with new clues constantly popping up to help guide us to the ultimate conclusion. Occasionally we get the story from The Piper's point of view, but we never really know he is, keeping us as much in the dark as Scott and the FBI. The fun is in trying to figure out who The Piper really is, and what his real agenda is. Along the way, I had my suspicions, but they kept changing as Mr. Wood kept dangling new clues in front of me.
I liked the way the characters were drawn. We feel Scott's pain as he faces the possibility of losing his son for good. And we also understand the guilt he feels for being duped all those years ago, and unwittingly contributing to another family's ultimate pain. We also get to know the father of the child who was killed, and see what his life has been like since that awful time. I also liked that we listen in, as Scott and the FBI talk to the previous kidnap victims to try to get clues to The Piper's identity. Listening to these teenagers who survived such trauma when they were young gave us a unique perspective not often found in kidnap stories. It definitely provided an interesting angle.
If there's any criticism at all, I place it on the book's ending. While the ultimate solution to the puzzle was satisfying, the ending was drawn out for way too long. Once we know all of the who's, how's, and why's, it's time to wrap it up. But the narrative prattled on for about 20 pages longer than it should have.
Still, this is a minor complaint, for a book that held my interest throughout. This is a thrilling book, that puts an interesting spin on a kidnap story. I recommend it.
Happy to be Lean-n-Mean!