The Abducted: The Beginning, Book 0, by Roger Hayden is the beginning novel in a detective/suspense series by Mr. Hayden. I wish I could say this was one of the great Indie reads I’ve had, but I can’t. Thankfully I can also say it isn’t the worst Indie book I’ve read to date either, because it has some positive points.
The story’s premise is a Florida policewoman and her new, rookie partner are on their normal beat when they see a car with a busted tail light and they pull it over. The policewoman looks down at her phone at a text at the very moment her rookie partner is killed. It just so happens, also, there is a serial child abductor who just so happened to have his new victim in possession, a little girl named Jenny.
The policewoman, Sgt. Miriam Castillo, leaves her murdered partner on the road where he fell after a quick check and goes after the murderer in hot pursuit.
The style of writing is difficult to grab, especially in the beginning. It reads like a newspaper article or a police crime report. There isn’t much description. We’re told a lot, not shown.
As the story progresses to a year later, we discover Detective Dwight O’Leary of the Palm Dale Police Department which Miriam Castillo left soon after her partner’s death, is still trying to solve the kidnapping of the little girl, Jenny, and hasn’t solved one single case in the entire year. It is also easy t see O’Leary is a blossoming alcoholic because of guilt? Remorse? Fear? Burnout? We’re supposed to believe it’s because he hasn’t found Jenny, but there seems like there is more going on here, but we really don’t know because Hayden leaves the reader a little high-and-dry. He tells the reader it is because O’Leary promised Jenny’s parents he would bring the little girl home, and, after a year, he hasn’t. The reader doesn’t experience much of what is going on with O’Leary.
Switch to Miriam Castillo who has moved to another city and is working as a dispatch officer for a trucking company. She was really lucky because she left the police force in Palm Dale and automatically found another job she’s been able to hold down for almost a full year. She’s divorced and raising a 12 year old daughter. The 12 year old is already feeling the pressure of puberty. Again, we’re told about the daughter. However, the descriptions surrounding Mirriam at her job gives us a feel for it as well as a sense she is wasting some very impressive talents working where she is. At this section of the story I felt things were looking up. Maybe the author just needed to hit his stride.
Back in Palm Dale a child shopping with her mother is being stalked at a supermarket by a very large woman in “a beehive hairdo”, “too much makeup” and “dark, dark sunglasses.” Suspense was genuinely built as predator and prey became aware of each other, and a mother’s instinct goes into high alert. This section of the story was one of the best. The descriptions carried you into the moment while your imagination filled in the tiny details the author didn’t need to tell you about. This section caught my attention and held it fast. When this latest victim is snatched away from her mother literally, I settled in for a good read.
O’Leary, I’m not exactly 100% sure why, though we are told, again, he wants to bring in Miriam Castillo because a) she is the only person to see the Snatcher; b) he wants a fresh set of eyes to look over his work; and c) he really sounds bored and needs a change of scenery. ( Perhaps this is what the author was feeling after having such an immense impact with the abduction scene and didn’t know where to go from there.) So, he heads further south to find Castillo. Exactly how this all happens and why it happens so quickly we don’t exactly know. I re-read this section to make certain I hadn’t missed something or skipped over some detail, but there wasn’t any explanation, description, or clue as to how long it was between when the newest little girl, Emily, was abducted and when O’Leary contacted her by phone, asking if he could come and meet with her.
This scene/section when O’Leary reaches Miriam and they have their first chat is awkward. It should be awkward as far as the characters go, but it shouldn’t be awkward in reading the description. Timing seems off to me. One example of the awkwardness is the following, at the end of the chapter, One Year Later:
She hung up the phone and stared at her computer screen. She felt overcome with mixed emotions, simmering just below the surface. All she could do in response was sigh.
There should be something more here. More description of the emotions? Show the reader how Miriam is feeling? This is a pivotol moment at the end of a chapter that should push you on to read more and it just, well, falls flat for me.
However, this isn’t the one to make me want to stop reading. That one came in the chapter Portrait of a Suspect. Getting to the suspect list was also awkward. For the most part we just arrived there. O’Leary had his mind made up who did it and he wasn’t going to have it any other way. Miriam’s objections weren’t really objections and she went on her “gut” rather than solid police work. The reader also didn’t “see” the main suspect’s file at any point or have the least bit of information from it; again, the reader is told about the suspect and why O’Leary figured it was him and when he told Miriam exactly why she was there almost caused me to stop reading because it simply didn’t make sense.
According to O’Leary, he wanted Miriam to take the fall for him if he got it wrong.
O’Leary sighed. “To take the fall if this goes south.” He looked sheepishly at the table and then back to her. “I figured you did it before, you could do it again.
According to some confusing information in previous chapters, Miriam was railroaded out of her position and forced to leave. The chief used her as a scapegoat. Miriam felt she needed to leave anyway because she felt guilty and blamed herself for the rookie partner’s death. Miriam is so weak-willed she accepts and says she would gladly be the fall guy if it would help find the little Emily.
After this I didn’t enjoy the read because I simply couldn’t suspend belief any longer. I felt cheated.
Emily and Jenny are found by Castillo but the main suspect was an accessory, not the perpetrator. O’Leary ended up shot in the leg and out of the big scene. All is right with the world for Miriam as she goes home to find her daughter kidnapped by said perpetrator, who left her a note, and a dead ex-husband who was staying at the house to look after the daughter when Miriam went away to play cop again.
This is the beginning book of a suspense thriller series. I am not reading any more of these novels. This book had a couple of high spots. It was confusing in sections. It needs a lot of editing and proof-reading.
I give it 1 out of 5 stars because it has the possibility of really being very good. It felt like a first draft read, not a publishable work.