‘The Abduction’ by Mark Gimenez

  Mark Gimenez is a relatively new writer. “The Abduction” is his second novel, but it delivers on a number of levels and whets a reader’s appetite for his next book.
  The (anti?)hero, Ben Brice, is a 60-something veteran of the Vietnam War, where he served as a young officer in a black ops unit and was part of atrocities so devastating they made him turn on his unit commander and left him unable to accept himself. He lives alone near Taos, N.M., and drinks himself to sleep every night. Although he works out every morning, his wife has left him and (with one exception) his son’s family considers him a drunk. The only person with whom he has any kind of bond is his 10-year-old granddaughter, Gracie. She is a soccer wizard, and after she is kidnapped from under her father’s nose following one of her games, Ben stops drinking and heads to Texas to help find her.
  Gimenez is a master of characterization. In short but incisive sections, he introduces:
  — Ben’s son, John, a computer geek who has little confidence in his manhood since being bullied at every military post his father had been assigned, but who is about to become a billionaire, after the Internet company he owns goes public.
  — John’s beautiful wife, Elizabeth, a former assistant U.S. district attorney before she proposed to him, and now a hard-as-nails defense lawyer with a hidden and ambiguous past.
  — FBI Special Agent Eugene Devereaux and Special Agent (on probation) Jan Jorgenson. Eugene is an expert in tracking down kidnappers and must labor under the knowledge that, unless kidnappers want a ransom, most children are dead only four hours after they are abducted. Jan wonders whether she can make any difference, until she does.
  As the hours and days pass, and no ransom call is received, the plot thickens and the characters interact in stress ridden but realistic ways. A scene where Elizabeth slaps her husband, John, because he permitted some pervert to take Gracie, is illustrative.
  Gimenez keeps the plot moving at a good pace. As Ben, Eugene and Jan pursue dead ends and blind alleys, the questions keep percolating: What’s really going on here? Why was Gracie kidnapped? Why does Ben believe she’s still alive? And what does it all mean? In this way, Gimenez keeps readers on the edge of their seats, until, approaching the denouement, the whole story comes out.
  Some parts of that story require a suspension of artistic belief, but the bad guy’s motives and objectives remain within the realm of possibility and can be accepted because Gimenez tries to make his story meaningful at a philosophical level. Throughout the book, his major characters wonder whether life is an unplanned series of random interactions, or whether some plan has been nurtured deep inside it. Gimenez comes down on the side of “plan.”   Although I found this philosophical exposition somewhat thin, his including it lifts “The Abduction” above pulp fiction to the level of literature.
  I think we’ll hear more of Gimenez in the future.

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