This book was so good I read it out of order. I have my reading scheduled pretty tightly. When this book came I opened the package to put it on the calendar, sticky-note the date on the front and file it in order on my TBR shelf, but first I wanted a preview … two hours later I was still sitting on the couch reading and Amoeba was home from work looking for his dinner. I was like, “Huh? What time is it?”
I kid you not, I did not want to put this book down. As soon as dinner was cooked and eaten and the kitchen was clean, I showered, put on my jammies and crawled into bed to read. I was still reading when Amoeba came to bed and I didn’t finish the book until about 20 minutes after he went to sleep.
This book has everything — mystery, mayhem, murder, humor, revenge, celebrities, private investigators, lawyers, doctors, egos, pride, redemption …. There were two characters I loved, and one I loved to hate — that’s where the redemption came in. There is even a teeny bit of romance, but it is not the driving force of the story.
Wanda L. Dyson is now on my list of must read writers. If you’re ever going to read a book I recommend, this would be the one.
It is time for a FIRST Wild Card Tour book review! If you wish to join the FIRST blog alliance, just click the button. We are a group of reviewers who tour Christian books. A Wild Card post includes a brief bio of the author and a full chapter from each book toured. The reason it is called a FIRST Wild Card Tour is that you never know if the book will be fiction, non~fiction, for young, or for old…or for somewhere in between! Enjoy your free peek into the book!
You never know when I might play a wild card on you!
and the book:
WaterBrook Press (September 21, 2010)
***Special thanks to Staci Carmichael, Marketing and Publicity Coordinator, Doubleday Religion/Waterbrook Multnomah for sending me a review copy.***
WANDA DYSON lives on a working horse farm, boarding and keeping a menagerie of critters. After writing three critically-acclaimed suspense novels, Wanda was asked to co-author the true story of Tina Zahn, Why I Jumped, a non-fiction work for which both Wanda and Tina appeared on Oprah. Wanda is a licensed Christian counselor who specializes in helping women recover from depression, anxiety, rejection, and the long-term effects of sexual and physical assault.
Visit the author’s website.
List Price: $13.99
Paperback: 352 pages
Publisher: WaterBrook Press (September 21, 2010)
AND NOW…THE FIRST CHAPTER:
Friday, April 3. Baltimore, MD
Running away from home had sounded like the best idea ever when she was planning it, but now that sixteen-year-old Britney Abbott was tired, hungry, and out of money, it felt more like the biggest mistake of her life. She climbed down off the bus, slung her backpack over her shoulder, and wondered where she was going to sleep for the night.
If only her mother hadnâ€™t married that jerk. He was so strict. According to Ronnie, Britney couldnâ€™t date, couldnâ€™t stay over at a friendâ€™s for the night, and she had to be in the house no later than seven every evening. None of her friends had to live like that.
Last Saturday night her mom and Ronnie went out to dinner, leaving her home alone with the usual litany of instructions: You cannot have anyone over. You will do your homework. You will be in bed by ten. You will not spend the evening on the phone with your friends. And you will notâ€”I repeat, notâ€”leave this house; I am going to call and if you arenâ€™t here to answer the phone, you will be grounded for a month.
Fifteen minutes after they left, Ronnie-the-Predictable called. She answered the phone. An hour and a half later, she was gone.
She looked around at the crowds dispersing in several directions. The smell of diesel fuel overwhelmed her empty stomach and it growled in protest. Everything looked the way she feltâ€” worn-out, dirty, and depressed.
â€œHey, you okay?â€ A girl stood against the wall near the exit from the bus station. Torn jeans, pink T-shirt, high top sneakers, leather jacket, and numerous rings and studs from ear to nose to lip.
â€œYeah, Iâ€™m cool.â€
â€œYou look hungry. I was just going over to Mickey Dâ€™s. You wanna come?â€
â€œItâ€™s okay. I think I can buy you a hamburger and some fries.â€
Britney was hungry enough to be tempted and wary enough to wonder why the girl would make such an offer. â€œMe?â€
â€œYeah.â€ The girl walked over. â€œMy nameâ€™s Kathi. I came to Washington about five months ago. A friend of mine was supposed to be on the bus but either her parents caught her trying to run away or she changed her mind.â€
â€œYouâ€™re a runaway?â€
Kathi laughed as she shoved her hands deep into the pockets of her jacket. â€œLook around, girl. There are lots of us. We come to DC to get away. Some stay, some move on to Chicago or New York.â€
Britney felt relieved to know she wasnâ€™t alone. â€œOkay. Iâ€™ll take a hamburger. Thanks.â€
Kathi linked her arm in Britneyâ€™s and led her down the street toward the Golden Arches. â€œWhatâ€™s your name?â€
â€œWell, letâ€™s get you something to eat and then you can crash at my place.â€
They chatted as they ate their food and drank their sodas, and with each passing minute, Britney liked Kathi more. She might look a little tough, but Britney supposed that living on the streets, you had to be. Her appearance aside, Kathi seemed friendly and generous.
They were about a block past McDonaldâ€™s when a woozy feeling interrupted their conversation. When she stumbled, Kathi steadied her. â€œYou okay?â€
â€œTired, more than likely. Itâ€™s not far to my place.â€
But Britneyâ€™s body felt heavier with each step. She struggled to stay awake. She had never felt this way before in her entire life. Not even after staying up for two straight days studying for a math test.
â€œI donâ€™t feel so good.â€
â€œWeâ€™re almost there,â€ Kathi told her. â€œJust down this way.â€
Britney didnâ€™t like the dark alley or the dark van parked there with the motor running, but she couldnâ€™t find the strength to resist Kathiâ€™s pull on her arm.
As they passed the van, the side door opened and a man
stepped out. â€œToo bad sheâ€™s such a looker.â€
â€œYeah, well,â€ Kathi replied. â€œYou get what I can find.â€
The man picked up Britney and tossed her into the van. Britney tried to call out, tried to resist, but she could no longer control her arms or legs. She could only lie there and let the fear grow and build until the scream inside felt like an explosion in her head.
The man duct-taped her arms and legs. Then he placed a piece over her mouth. â€œDonâ€™t worry, kid. This will be over real soon.â€
Wednesday, April 15. Outside Washington DC
Suzanne Kidwell shoved her tape recorder in the copâ€™s face, smiling up at him as if he were the hero in her own personal story. â€œWe have two girls missing now and both were students at Longview High. Are you looking at the faculty and staff at the school?â€
The officer puffed a bit, squaring his shoulders and thrusting out his chest as he hiked up his utility belt. â€œYou have to understand that we havenâ€™t finished our investigation, but I can tell you that we found pornography on the principalâ€™s computer. Iâ€™d say weâ€™re just hours away from arresting him.â€
She lightly traced a glossy red nail down his forearm. â€œI knew I came to the right man. You have that air of authority and competence. And Iâ€™ll bet you were the one who sent those detectives in the right direction too.â€
He dropped his head in one of those â€œaw shucks, maâ€™amâ€ moves. â€œWell, I did tell them that he had been arrested about ten years ago for assault.â€
â€œAnd they made a man like that the principal. What is this world coming to?â€ Before he could comment, she hit him with another question. â€œHas he told you yet what he did with the girls?â€
â€œNot yet. Heâ€™s still insisting heâ€™s innocent, but itâ€™s just a matter of time before we get a confession out of him.â€
â€œThank you so much, Officer. Youâ€™re a hero. Those girls would be dead without you.â€
He blushed hard as she hurried off, lobbing him another dazzling smile as she calculated her timetable. It was nearly four and she had to be ready and on the air at six, scooping every other network in the city.
At the station, she ran up the stairs to the second floor and jogged down to Frankâ€™s office. â€œIs he in?â€ she asked his secretary.
â€œSure. Go on in.â€
If there was a dark spot anywhere in her job at all, it was Frank Dawson. The man delighted in hassling her. Professional jealousy, no doubt. She knocked on his doorjamb. â€œCan I talk to you for a minute?â€
Like Frank, the room was heavy on shine and light on substance. Awards and diplomas covered all the walls. Pictures of Frank with politicians, presidents, and the wealthy, beautiful, and powerful were displayed prominently on all the bookshelves. His desk dominated the center of the room, covered in paperwork, tapes, and files.
Suzanne took a deep breath, clutched her notes, and strode into his office. â€œYou know the two local girls that went missing recently?â€
He glanced up at the clock, a subtle reminder that she should be getting dressed and into makeup. â€œI think so.â€
â€œWell, Iâ€™ve been doing some digging and they have a suspect.â€
â€œAnd this is your business exactly why?â€
â€œBecause I scooped everyone else. I talked to one of the officers working the case and he told me that they have a suspect, theyâ€™re interrogating him now, and they expect to announce his arrest momentarily.â€
â€œAnd what does this have to do with me?â€
She stared at him for a long moment. â€œI want to go on the air with this late-breaking news.â€
He scratched his chin. â€œYour show is already scheduled, Suzanne. Corruption in the horse industry.â€
â€œI know that, and I can still do that. I just need five minutes at the end of the show to cover this. Weâ€™ve got the scoop! How can we not run with it?â€
Waving a hand, he said, â€œFine. Go with it. I sure hope you have all the facts.â€
â€œI have them straight from the mouth of the police. How much more do you want?â€
â€œFine. Do it.â€
Grinning, she rushed back down to wardrobe and makeup in record time, entering the studio with mere minutes to spare.
Suzanne looked over at one of the assistants. â€œWhereâ€™s my microphone?â€
As someone rushed to get her miked up, the director walked in. â€œWe have a job to do, people; letâ€™s get to it. Weâ€™re on the air in two.â€
She straightened her jacket as the assistant adjusted the small microphone clipped to her lapel. â€œItâ€™s fine. Move.â€
The cameraman finished the countdown with his fingers. Threeâ€¦twoâ€¦one. She fixed her expression.
â€œGood evening, ladies and gentlemen.â€ Suzanne turned slightly. â€œIâ€™m Suzanne Kidwell. And this is Judgment Day.â€
Suzanne took a deep breath while the station ran the introduction, taking a moment to straighten the notes in front of her and sip her water.
When the director pointed at her, she launched into the ongoing corruption and abuses endangering horse owners.
The camera shifted for a closeup. â€œAnd before I close tonight, I want to give you a late-breaking report. Just like you, Iâ€™ve been horrified by the tragic disappearance of teens here in the tristate area. But what made me truly sit up and take notice was that within the last two weeks, two young girlsâ€”seventeen-year-old Jennifer Link and sixteen-year-old Britney Abbottâ€”were reported as runaways. Same neighborhood, same school, both runaways?
â€œNow maybe that could happen, but I was skeptical. I did some digging. And Iâ€™m happy to report that the police have arrested Peter Fryer, the principal of Longview High School.â€
Suzanne changed her expression from a touch of sorrow mixed with concern to outrage. â€œI spoke to the lead officer and he told me that evidence against the principal included child pornography on Fryerâ€™s computer. In spite of being arrested ten years ago for assault, Peter Fryer was hired on as the principal of Longview just four years ago. He is still denying any involvement, but the police assured me they have their man. I will keep you posted.â€
She angled her body. â€œAs long as people out there who betray our trust, there will be Judgment Day with Suzanne Kidwell. Good night, America. Iâ€™ll see you next week.â€
As soon as she got the signal that she was clear, she pulled off her mike and stood up, grabbing her water as left the studio.
She rushed down the hall, and when she reached her office, she sank down into her chair and kicked off her shoes. She barely had time to curl her toes in the carpet before her phone rang.
She picked it up. â€œGreat job, Suzanne.â€ It was Frank.
â€œThanks, boss. I knew youâ€™d be happy.â€
â€œThe phones are ringing off the hook. The other stations are scrambling to catch up to us.â€
Smiling, she leaned back. â€œTheyâ€™ll be eating our dust for a while now.â€
â€œYouâ€™ll stay on this?â€
â€œAll the way to conviction.â€