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by L. R. Wright

L.R. Wright’s 14th novel, Kidnap, touted as the first in a new series featuring RCMP Sergeant Edwina (Eddie) Henderson, is a low-key, low-energy, non-thriller.

A middle-aged couple rent a secluded house near Sechelt on B.C.’s Sunshine Coast, where they stalk Samantha, a five-year-old girl who is staying nearby with an aunt while her father is in Hawaii recovering from his wife’s death in a car accident. The set-up takes an achingly slow 200 pages.

When the kidnapping finally takes place, the kidnappers are inept, though not enough to be humorous. The explanation of why the kidnappers do what they do is long and complicated and not worth the number of pages devoted to it. Summarized: Good people go bad when enough bad things happen to them.

Crime literature requires suspense, and lacking that, a sense of menace and foreboding. The reader never feels that Samantha’s life is truly in danger. The structure of the novel turns on information withheld from the reader. It is unbelievable that a father would withhold information from the RCMP that might lead to his daughter’s recovery simply because he is embarrassed to admit to having an affair.

The RCMP detachment in Sechelt, temporarily headed by Sergeant Edwina Henderson, does nothing beyond following regular procedures, and sometimes not even that. Why was the phone not tapped when the kidnappers called? Police work can be slow, repetitious, and unexciting, but the crime writer’s job is to create action and suspense. Henderson’s character is understated, and uninteresting details about her life on and off duty take up too many pages.

Wright has a solid reputation as a crime writer and this book appears to be an aberration. The proposed series seems unlikely unless Sergeant Henderson develops a sense of urgency.