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The Stolen by Jason Pinter

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Category: General Fiction
Rating: 4/5
Reviewer: Ceri Padley
Reviewed by Ceri Padley
Summary: Henry Parker's adventures may seem a little implausible at first but, with a pocketful of charisma, he takes us on a swift and exciting investigation in a heart-wrenching attempt to protect the children of Hobbs County. Fast-paced, emotional, and all-out compelling.
Buy? Yes Borrow? Yes
Pages: 352 Date: June 2009
Publisher: Harlequin
ISBN: 978-0778303015

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Henry Parker's life has come to a halt. The love of his life has left him, his hero is slowly drinking himself to death, and his love for journalism is slowly fading. One day, however, Parker receives a call from his editor: a missing boy has returned home with no memory, and he's got the exclusive interview. As events unfold, Parker's passion reignites when he attempts to discover why the investigation has closed, why the authorities don't seem to care, and where the missing children go.

Readers, similar to myself, who find no usual enjoyment from a book labelling itself as a 'crime/thriller' tour de force need look away no more. Jason Pinter, an American writer, is sure to emerge as one of the most interesting new crime writers of his generation, drawing in novices and fans of the genre alike.

The Stolen, the third in his 'Henry Parker' series, is a fast-paced tale of one journalist's quest to discover the truth about a young boy's past. Gripping the reader from its very first word, Finished, we are invited to play sidekick as our protagonist stumbles around the west coast of America trying to pick up clues from the growing number of diverse characters he meets. What begins as a simple story about a group of strangers, living their lives as society dictates, quickly escalates into a journey packed with new twists and turns in every chapter.

While the main character narrates the majority of the story, readers will enjoy snippets of third-person narration that focus on clues Parker has yet to find. As a result, we are given the edge over our hero and are able to enjoy the feeling of being always one step ahead. Coupled with the fact that it's nearly impossible to run short of characters in this story, and you're sure to find somebody's viewpoint you enjoy.

I was reminded at times of the chart-topping author, Jodi Picoult, another American who has made a career from creating realistic, gritty, everyday characters quickly dragged into situations that are, more often than not, out of their depth. Perhaps this is why Pinter's series has become popular. His hero, Henry Parker, is unapologetically humane, striving to do what any of us would want to upon hearing news of a missing child. The casual details of Henry's past, as described in the book's predecessors, The Mark and The Guilty, is scattered but detailed enough so that new readers need not be confused.

While it's fair to say The Stolen isn't the best written book of 2009, it's certainly an exciting one. As a non-reader of crime thrillers, I was pleasantly surprised at how much I enjoyed the story. Each cliff-hanger ending to the chapters kept me engrossed for hours to the point where I debated checking out the earlier books to see what I'd missed. Rather than force hardcore crime facts at the reader from the start, The Stolen gives its audience a neutral perspective, through the eyes of a man whose curiosity could be compared to that of a nosey neighbour. As a result, anyone wishing for a smooth introduction into the thriller genre is sure to find this book a useful tool.

Alternatively, readers are reminded that it may be worth checking out the original two books from the series (The Mark available on The Bookbag) or diving straight into darker crime novels along the lines of Cut Her Dead by Iain McDowall.

I'd like to thank the publishers for sending a copy to The Bookbag.

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