24 hours

Iles, Greg. 24 Hours. New York: G.P. Putnam’s Sons, 2000.

A kidnapping mystery set in Mississippi…sort of an odd read for the holiday season, but December is the month Mississippi became a state.
Here’s the storyline: Basically, this guy, Joe, has set up the perfect kidnapping scheme. He targets a doctor who has a spouse and child, learns all he can about the doctor’s family and then while the doc is at an annual convention he kidnaps his/her child. His cousin (a hulking man with the IQ of a chipmunk) holds the child in a remote location while his “wife” entertains the male parent and Joe entertains the female parent for 24 hours. They call each other every 30 minutes and if a call is missed Cousin Chipmunk kills the kid. In the AM one parent wires the ransom to the other parent so the kidnapper doesn’t have any connection to the withdrawal. The money is always an amount the doctor can afford and the kidnapping always works because the child is worth more than getting the money back or calling the police. The detail that makes the whole thing work are the every 30 minutes phone calls. Everything hinges on those calls and the convention – because the convention is the guarantee the doctor will be separated from the rest of the family for at least 24 hours.
Despite the brilliant plot I have two problems with detail. In the beginning both parents are told their family has been scrutinized and studied in great detail. The kidnappers claim to know everything about the family. If that is true then why did they not know their latest kidnapping victim was diabetic? If they knew everything how did they miss such a large piece of a child’s life? The second problem with detail is on page 164 – one of the kidnappers says “You have to chill, Will!” and is delighted by the rhyme of the doctor’s name, yet two pages later Iles writes, “Why don’t you at least face the truth about something, Will.” It was the first time she [the kidnapper] had used his Christian name” (p 166). No, actually it wasn’t. She told Will to chill two pages earlier. Ugh.
All in all, this moved fast and was a constant page turner. Every time I had to put it down I was at “the good part” and hated to stop reading. The end is a little over-the-top dramatic and there are loose ends, but well worth the read.

BookLust Twist: In More Book Lust in the “Southern Fried Fiction (Mississippi)” chapter (p 208).

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