Monday, April 20, 2015

Taken - Dee Henderson

Publisher:        Bethany House Publishers

Market:            Christian

Genre:             Fiction; Suspense

Length:            432 pages

Pub. Date:       April 28, 2015


Description (from Amazon):

Abducted at the age of sixteen and coerced into assisting the Jacoby crime family, Shannon Bliss has finally found a way out. She desperately wants to resume some semblance of normal life, but she also knows she has some unfinished business to attend to. She has enough evidence to put her captors behind bars for a very long time.

When Shannon contacts private investigator and former cop Matthew Dane to help her navigate her reentry into society, she quickly discovers that gaining her freedom doesn’t mean her troubles are over. For one thing, her brother is the leading candidate in the race for Illinois governor, and news of her escape will create a media frenzy. For another, the ransom her family reportedly paid years earlier appears to have been a scam; no one knows what happened to the money. And then there’s the fact that Shannon’s escape involved faking her own death. If the Jacoby family learns she is still alive, they’ll stop at nothing to silence her.

If justice is to be done, and if Shannon’s life is ever to get on track again, Matthew will need to discover exactly what happened to her–even if it means stirring up a hornet’s nest of secrets.


My Review:

I received an advanced reader copy from NetGalley in exchange for my honest review.

I fell in love with Dee Henderson’s storytelling through reading her O’Malley series.  I’ve read most of her other books as well.  They have been more hit-and-miss for me.  So I was anxious to read her latest book and see where on the spectrum it fell. 

The Dee Henderson books I gravitate towards enjoying the most are the ones filled with suspense and action.  Taken missed the mark on that for me.  It was definitely more of an emotionally based book with most of the action being a discussion on past events.  There was also a lot of strategy to work towards justice.  However, there was no suspense in the present day of the book’s setting.  So that was a disappointment to me. 

The book does flow smoothly with the exception of a huge time jump between chapters 34 & 35.  I did lose track of the story time at other parts as sometimes it was delineated out and at other times the story just moved along without time markers.  To me, that wasn’t a big deal.  The balance of dialogue and prose was right on, and the conversations were realistic and helped to move the story line further.

I liked getting to know both Shannon and Matthew.  I also enjoy how Henderson weaves in characters from her other books.  Although I can see that being a bit confusing for a reader who hasn’t read her other books.  

Shannon and Matthew were both realistic – although I think Matthew was more human than Shannon at times.  Their relationship, while predictable, was also sweet. 

Henderson has shown in all of her books that she does know the world of police detective work, the FBI, and that arena.  Every scenario came across with believability. 

I did really like how Henderson handled spirituality in this book.  Shannon never lost her faith in God despite what happened to her and what she witnessed.  But this wasn’t just a given expectation or a rote response.  In a conversation with Matthew, she discussed how God could let something like her kidnapping happen.  They dive into the ideas of free will and good versus evil.  Concepts that I think many people struggle with.  It was all addressed in a way that was thought provoking and not at all preachy. 

There really was not any questionable content in this book.  Despite being more in the suspense genre, there were no graphic descriptions of any of the crimes discussed.

I believe this book would appeal to primarily female readers as there is a strong female lead.  It could cross the boundaries between ABA and CBA to be enjoyed by non-Christians as well.  However, if you are looking for hardcore suspense, this is not the book for you.  It is much more subdued and focused much more on healing and relationship building between characters. 

A worthy read despite not fully meeting my expectations.

Pros:  well-rounded main characters; visiting old character friends; excellent handling of free will and how bad things can happen to good people

Cons:  not as much suspense and action as I like from Henderson

My Rating: 4 out of 5 (very good)

**This review will also post on The Christian Manifesto website on 4.24.15.

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