Monday, May 31, 2010

"Abandoned" by Cody McFadyen

FBI agent Smoky Barrett and her team are back, this time drawn into the mystery of a woman thrown out of a car at the wedding of team member Callie. The woman is eventually revealed to be Heather Hollister, a police officer who went missing eight years ago. She shows evidence of being tortured and held in a place with no light. She is too traumatised to give any information. As the team investigate the link Heather's remarried husband Douglas Hollister might have to the initial disappearance, they learn that other people have been abducted under similar circumstances - except these folk are showing up with homemade labotomies....

There's a good thriller buried somewhere in "Abandoned". There are some interesting glimpses into the villian's past, and their motivation for and execution of the kidnappings quite captivating. Later in the novel, an exploration of anti-feminism raises plenty of interesting points - the kidnapper often trawls through the websites of bitter, cuckolded men who hate their wives, hoping to find their next collaborator/victim. Whether or not you agree with some of the fictional characters' viewpoints, there are some intriguing insights into what is acceptable behaviour for the sexes.

However, you have to wade through a lot of tiresome crap to find it. This book is not in any hurry to get anywhere. Heather Hollister's inability to provide the feds with any information seems a convenient excuse for McFadyen to do what he does best with these characters these days - let them focus on and ruminate about anything and everything that doesn't have anything to do with the case they're investigating. They have to ponder their futures when the FBI director announces cutbacks and relocation. Smoky has a couple more secrets she has to reveal. Yawn! I'll save you the trouble: she has secretly gotten married to Tommy, and is now pregnant. McFadyen spends an inordinate amount of time on Smoky and Tommy talking about their relationship and how "cool" it is. Smoky has to step up to the plate as a parent when surrogate daughter Bonnie kills a cat. Yes, you read that right.

"Abandoned" is probably about one-third of a good book. I don't dislike these characters, but focusing so much on their personal lives at the expense of the crime element is boring! Unless McFadyen is going to go in a wild direction and write about a thirteen-year-old female serial killer, I don't care that Bonnie killed a cat! What a RIDICULOUS diversion! Is this guy just cashing his cheques or what? When I buy a book in the crime genre, I'm buying it for what I hope will be an exciting, suspenseful thriller. Not a tedious soap opera about a traumatised woman rebuilding her life with a so-perfect-he-barely-resembles-human mercenary and a wise-beyond-her-years girl. Because that's mostly what I got here. After two misfires in a row, I'm not sure this author is getting another chance.

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