cover image Mother's Day

Mother's Day

Joshua Quittner, Michelle Slatalla. St. Martin's Press, $18.95 (245pp) ISBN 978-0-312-08850-7

Turning every new parent's worst nightmare into a plausible thriller proves problematic in this second novel by the authors of the more upbeat Shoofly Pie to Die . Molly and Carlotta are two very bad women who babysit five cute three-month-old babies for 10 harassed and grateful parents. When the kids and sitters vanish, FBI agent Don Tafoya seems powerless to find them. The infants eventually begin to surface as their new adoptive parents, bilked out of $500,000 by Molly and Carlotta, realize they've been duped and give the children back. But one boy doesn't reappear, and his parents, journalists Lucy and Em Grazer, turn for help to Phrank, a mysterious teenage computer hacker. In this trite work, every narrative step seems locked into a very familiar pattern--making the villains occasional lesbians, for example, is a very tired fictional device. The authors are also sloppy technicians: the best character (Phrank) is annoyingly underdeveloped, and one child's death isn't even properly explained. The novel's best moment occurs when Phrank achieves hacker nirvana and boldly takes his computer where no civilian machine has gone before. The rest of the tale belongs firmly in made-for-TV-movieland. ( Apr. )