cover image The Pied Piper

The Pied Piper

Ridley Pearson. Hyperion Books, $23.45 (497pp) ISBN 978-0-7868-6300-6

A serial kidnapper called the Pied Piper--the villain of Pearson's ingenious, fast-moving 11th thriller--has targeted Seattle, and newly promoted Lieutenant Lou Boldt (last seen in Beyond Recognition) is called in on the case by John LaMoia of the Seattle Crimes Against Persons unit. Boldt, whose wife, Liz, is undergoing chemotherapy, soon discovers that the Pied Piper has managed to target families, steal children and vanish from city after city seemingly at will, although the FBI, under the direction of Special Agent Gary Flemming, has been chasing the serial kidnapper across the country for months. And it looks like the same thing will happen in Seattle, especially when vital information is withheld by the FBI in a turf battle with the locals. But just as Boldt starts asking the right questions, the Pied Piper abducts his daughter, Sarah. It's twists like this that fuel the rest of the novel as Pearson tightens the screws on Boldt as he tries to find his daughter and prevent another kidnapping. The plot begins simply and becomes wonderfully complex, stretching from Seattle to New Orleans; while the lucky car accident that helps break the case wide open is somewhat facile, the work of Boldt and an expertly drawn supporting cast of characters will hold the attention of readers. As will be clear even to neophytes, Boldt's relationship with forensic psychologist Daphne Matthews, and the ongoing affair between two members of the task force, point to a lot of history between these characters, none of it confusing for first-timers, who may be tempted to pick up earlier novels to see whether they're all this good. $250,000 ad/promo; Literary Guild, Doubleday Book Club selections; author tour. Agent, Al Zuckerman. (Aug.) FYI: A mass market edition of Beyond Recognition will be published simultaneously.