The Joplin Globe, Joplin, MO

May 8, 2009

Book review: Readers should say hello to ‘Say Goodbye’

“Three Weeks to Say Goodbye”

By C. J. Box

(Compact-disc audiobook)

After several years spent trying to conceive a child, Melissa and Jack McGuane adopt a baby girl and name her Angelina. Life with their baby daughter is nearly perfect for the McGuanes. Angelina is a beautiful, precocious 9-month-old when Jack and Melissa receive the devastating news from the adoption agency that Angelina’s teenage birth father never signed away his parental rights.

Money is tight for the McGuanes. Jack works for the Denver Convention and Visitors Bureau, and when they adopted Angelina, Melissa quit her job to be a full-time mother. Jack and Melissa are stunned when the baby’s father, Garrett Moreland, and Garrett’s father, Federal Judge John Moreland, pay them a visit. Judge Moreland tells Melissa and Jack that they must give Angelina back in three weeks and even offer to help them find another child! Melissa and Jack realize they do not have the funds to fight the powerful judge, but they intend to do everything in their power to keep their little girl.

Two of their best friends, Cody, a cop, and Brian, a prominent real-estate developer, use their resources to help Jack and Melissa discover why Garrett, a thug and member of the Mexican mafia gang, and his father want the child. The judge’s wife doesn’t even know about Angelina until Melissa runs into her at a fund-raiser, and she seems less than thrilled to learn she is going to have a baby granddaughter in her house. During Jack, Cody and Brian’s investigation it becomes evident that the judge and his son have some rather dark motives for wanting Angelina and also uncover a shocking secret and a plot that will endanger the child.

Some of Jack’s and Cody’s escapades are a little over the top but C.J. Box’s novel is a spellbinding and suspenseful thriller that you won’t want to put down. John Bedford Lloyd’s narration is superb. Lloyd also narrated “Blue Heaven,” another of C.J. Box’s thrillers that I highly recommend.

“The Lost Witness”

By Robert Ellis

(Compact-disc audiobook)

LAPD Det. Lena Gamble’s first appearance was in “City of Fire” and she returns in this gripping thriller by Robert Ellis. Lena hasn’t been allowed to handle a murder investigation for months. Instead she has been relegated to doing investigative paperwork on officer-related killings.

The LAPD brass was not happy with some of her revelations about the LA police department when she solved the Romeo case in “City of Fire,” so Lena is surprised when she is given a high-profile case to work, but suspects that she is being set up to take a fall by the LAPD chief and his assistant.

Lena’s assignment is the particularly brutal death of prostitute Jennifer McBride. Jennifer is found in a dumpster, her body cut in pieces with surgical precision and placed in a garbage bag. Lena teams up with her colleague Stan Rhodes to investigate this gruesome murder. Lena realizes there was a witness when she receives a hazy video of the crime and the victim’s driver’s license. As Lena follows the few leads in the investigation, she becomes aware she is under constant surveillance by someone in the police department when she uncovers evidence of high-tech video and eavesdropping equipment in her house.

Lena’s investigation leads her to the office of a famous pediatrician and the son of a pharmaceutical company giant. She is in a race with the murderer to locate the missing witness in this bizarre case as the body count continues to rise.

Robert Ellis does a terrific job with the characters, especially the deep, complex Lena Gamble character. Be prepared for a wild ride in this latest thriller with its many twists and surprises. Deanna Hurst’s excellent narration adds to the suspense.

Both novels are available in print editions at the Joplin Public Library.

Phyllis Seesengood is the technical services librarian at Joplin Public Library.