Desert Isle Keeper
This book frightened me. It put a coil of terror in my belly and gave me anxious dreams. It wasn’t just because the writing was excellent or the plot scary, but because of its subject matter. Every parent has a secret belief that if we can just get our kids through the school years, we can breathe a bit easier. We can worry less once we raise them to make good decisions and behave with some maturity. This book reminds us that the ones we love are never truly safe and that our precious children can be snatched right from under our noses – even when they are no longer “children”.
All it takes is one wrong decision. Flora Dane got buzzed while on spring break, went to the bathroom on her own and spent the next 472 days being starved, beaten, assaulted and spending the hours in between in a pine coffin. Being found by the police, returning home physically intact after the ordeal was a miracle. But Flora has never healed emotionally; she has never been able to pick up the threads of her former self and get back to her regularly scheduled life. The sunny, outdoorsy girl who played with foxes on her mother’s farm is gone forever.
In her place is Flora 2.0. This Flora loves self-defense classes, can pick locks and knows how to make a weapon out of any resource. This Flora is no-one’s victim; she is instead an avenger. When this Flora dances with a guy at a club, it is he who is sized up as possible prey. Because when Flora runs into the predators out there, she lets them lure her off the dance floor, away from the pounding music, strobing lights and partying crowds. He leads her away from safety but it is him that winds up on the ground asking for mercy.
It is after one such encounter that Flora meets Detective D.D. Warren. While her assailant lies dead on the floor of his own garage, Flora sits in a squad car explaining how he got that way. After answering only a few of the questions put to her by police she asks they make one simple call – to an FBI victim activist named Samuel Keynes. He takes Flora home but she’s on D.D.’s radar now. However, when D.D. shows up at Flora’s apartment to question her again she receives a nasty shock. The front door is open and the occupant is nowhere to be found. It’s not clear she’s been taken but it is certain to D.D. that a woman with the kind of security Flora has would never leave her front door open. Just what has happened to this young woman? And how will they find her when the super predator who took her has left them zero clues to work with?
This book alternates between third-person chapters which deal with D.D., Samuel and the contingent of Boston cops who are investigating the case, and the first-person account of Flora’s life, both in her former kidnapping and her current one. The pacing is brisk and there is just the right element of frustration as you turn each page wondering what clue it is that you are missing in order to figure out just what the heck is happening. I figured it out about three-fourths of the way through, but that didn’t alter the suspense of the last few chapters since Flora is still in captivity and doesn’t have a clue what is going on. Waiting on the big rescue and wondering what damage would be done before that happened kept me glued to the page.
Since I am not going to talk plot and destroy the fun readers will have on the roller coaster ride that this mystery is, I’m going to talk characters. Flora is the first character we are introduced to and I don’t really know what I think of her other than to say I like how she responded to her initial assault. I think it made perfect sense that after her ordeal she turned herself into someone who would never again be an easy victim. I admired her resilience, her audacity and her tenacity.
D.D. has those same character traits. On restricted duty due to a shoulder injury incurred on the job, D.D. is champing at the bit. She’s not supposed to visit crime scenes or interview witnesses but is instead supposed to be at the office dealing with paperwork. She doesn’t do that of course. The good thing is she does get a chewing out for not sticking to procedure and we can see her doing some thinking about how her maverick ways just might spell tragedy for her family.
Speaking of family, I was glad to see the book deal with Flora’s and the effect her abduction had on all of them. Tragedy affects not just the initial victim but everyone who loves them. Tragedy leaves scars and this book showed that.
I am so happy to be able to give this book a whole-hearted recommendation. Even as you figure out all the clues, there is so much to keep you reading. Rich characterization, excellent pacing and some horrifying subject matter make this a book you simply won’t want to put down .