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Invisible Chains: Shawn Hornbeck and the Kidnapping Case That Shook the Nation

Kristina Sauerwein, Author
Kristina Sauerwein, Author . Lyons $18.95 (328p) ISBN 978-1-59921-344-6
Reviewed on: 03/31/2008
Release date: 05/01/2008
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Sauerwein, a former reporter for the St. Louis Post-Dispatch and the L.A. Times , delves into a puzzling kidnapping case with penetrating true crime reporting. She describes 11-year-old Shawn Hornbeck’s disappearance from his rural Missouri hometown, while riding his bike in 2002. He was abducted by Michael Devlin, an innocuous-seeming pizza-shop manager who repeatedly sexually abused and tortured Shawn for four years. In a strange twist, Devlin also assumed a fatherly role and Hornbeck became his “son”; even given freedom to go out alone, Hornbeck never tried to escape. Shawn was joined by another kidnapped boy, Ben Ownby, four days before the police nabbed Devlin in January 2007. The unusual psychological aspects of Hornbeck’s captivity and his failure to attempt to escape are explained, according to Sauerwein, by the Stockholm syndrome, which leads a captive to bond with his captor. An impeccable, on-target true crime narration, this book of loss, perversity and redemption illuminates not only the desperate pangs of a predator’s sexual hunger but the steadfast love of two families for their missing children. (May)

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