Only Son

Kevin O'Brien, Author
Kevin O'Brien, Author Kensington Publishing Corporation $21.95 (304p) ISBN 978-1-57566-091-2
Reviewed on: 12/30/1996
Release date: 01/01/1997
Mass Market Paperbound - 352 pages - 978-1-57566-211-4
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Despite some awkward moments, O'Brien's compassionate approach to a rather pedestrian kidnapping story makes this first novel surprisingly engaging. Carl Jorgenson is a happily married young office worker living in Portland when his pregnant wife decides to get an abortion against his will. Angered by her decision, Carl moves out, and shortly thereafter kidnaps Eddie, an infant born to another struggling Portland couple, Paul and Amy McMurray. After spiriting the child off to Seattle, Jorgenson starts a new life as a single parent, renaming the baby ""Sam"" and sending brief postcards to his despondent parents to update them on their abducted child's progress. As Sam grows up, however, he begins to question the murkier aspects of his family background, and when Amy, after splitting up with Paul, moves to Seattle, it's only a matter of time before an ""accidental"" meeting between mother and son takes place. O'Brien frequently strains the bounds of credibility in his description of the gyrations Carl goes through to keep the baby after the kidnapping, and some of the first-person passages from the various narrators are mawkish and clumsy. But the final confrontation, in which Sam's true identity is revealed, is handled with grace and empathy, and the author's refusal to cast Carl as a villain represents an interesting spin on a plot that otherwise reads like a script for a TV movie. (Jan.)
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