Patricia Lewin, Author . Ballantine $23.95 (304p) ISBN 978-0-345-44320-5

Spunky kids at the mercy of bad guys are once again the focus of this second suspense novel by Lewin (Blind Run ), in which a covert CIA operative and martial arts expert goes up against a child kidnapping ring. Erin Baker is on assignment in D.C., keeping an eye on the city's embassies, when she spots a magician she saw the day her seven-year-old sister, Claire, was snatched 19 years before. Convinced that she can help find a boy who was recently kidnapped, Erin joins FBI agent Alec Donovan, working with him to dismantle an international child-slavery ring operating under diplomatic immunity. Meanwhile, the story shifts focus to follow the kidnapper as he dons disguises to match wits with his pursuers, and describes abuse through the eyes of Ryan, a boy imprisoned on a German diplomat's Middleburg, Va., estate. Tension builds as Erin confronts the kidnapper on a jogging path and the evil German at an embassy ball, coming to a head when Alec's team storms the Virginia mansion. There is no shortage of twists and surprises, but the fast-paced plot can't make up for the cardboard-cutout characters (pretty Erin is a single parent and demonstrates martial arts to CIA recruits in her spare time; tough yet sensitive Alec falls for her right away; the evil German loves his guard dogs) or the uninspired prose ("The following ten days were particularly intense"). An action movie in print, this thriller offers recognizable characters, a few surprises, a little romance and the chance for the heroine to wear a variety of outfits to face down the villains. (Jan.)

Reviewed on: 12/22/2003
Release date: 01/01/2004
Genre: Fiction
Analog Audio Cassette - 978-1-59355-402-6
Open Ebook - 978-0-345-47192-5
MP3 CD - 978-1-59335-263-9
Hardcover - 440 pages - 978-0-7862-6573-2
Analog Audio Cassette - 978-1-59355-405-7
Hardcover - 262 pages - 978-0-7499-0704-4
MP3 CD - 978-1-59335-494-7
Analog Audio Cassette - 978-1-59355-403-3
Analog Audio Cassette - 978-1-59355-404-0
Mass Market Paperbound - 316 pages - 978-0-345-44321-2
MP3 CD - 978-1-5012-8886-9
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