The Joplin Globe, Joplin, MO

Globe Life

April 22, 2013

Phyllis Seesengood: Kidnapped family's issues exposed in thriller

JOPLIN, Mo. — From all appearances, Justin and Libby Denbe and their 15-year-old daughter, Ashlyn are the perfect, loving family in "Touch and Go," by Lisa Gardner. Justin owns a multi-million-dollar construction company that has provided their family with a life of wealth, including an elegant, multi-story Boston townhouse, cars and anything else that money can buy.

When Libby discovers that Justin had an affair with a much younger woman, she relegates him to a bedroom in the basement of their elegant Boston townhouse. Libby and Justin are trying to work through their marital problems by having occasional date nights.

They arrive home after a rather tense night out only to be attacked by intruders. Justin, Libby and Ashlyn are tasered, drugged and abducted with brutal efficiency by three armed men.

Northledge Investigations, the firm that handles security for Denbe Construction, employs Tessa Leoni to investigate the abduction.

Tessa, a private investigator, is the main character from "Love You More," an earlier novel by Lisa Gardner. D. D. Warren, the character in another popular Gardner series, makes a brief but welcome cameo appearance in this novel.

The Boston police, the FBI and Tessa begin to fit together pieces of the puzzle of the missing family. Wyatt Foster, a New Hampshire sheriff, assists with the case when the investigation reveals that the abductors and their prisoners have crossed the state line into New Hampshire.

Tessa and Wyatt find the investigation perplexing. How did the kidnappers enter the house? The home has a state-of-the-art security system installed by Denbe Construction. The abductors must have had inside information about the house and the family's activities.

Why abduct a whole family? Three people are harder to control and hide than a single person. Where have they hidden the family? Where do you hide three people? What is the motive for the kidnapping? There is no immediate ransom demand.

As the hours pass in their small cell, the strain of their captivity reveals a far-from-perfect family unit. The Denbe family begins to disintegrate as each character's darkest secrets are revealed -- Justin's attraction to other women, Libby's addiction to painkillers and the result of Ashlyn's actions after her feeling of being left out of her parents' lives.

"This is the truth: love, safety, family -- it is all touch and go."

Libby's first-person point of view is particularly compelling in the audio format narrated by Elisabeth Rogers. Libby reveals the slow unraveling of the family members. Tessa's and the other characters' narratives are told in the third person. The characters are believable and the plot gripping.

I do recommend reading "Love You More" before reading "Touch and Go." The previous novel helped me to understand references to Tessa's background as a disgraced former state trooper, but "Touch and Go" still works well as a standalone novel.

The novel's well-crafted plot moves at a hectic pace with intricate twists, turns and surprises galore. It becomes clear as the novel progresses that the situation is far more complex than anyone would have guessed at the beginning. "Touch and Go" is a riveting psychological thriller.

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

 

1
Text Only
Globe Life
  • 041314_cj glass1.jpg Carl Junction students create projects, win awards at national contest with glass arts

    The students are part of a new glass arts class at Carl Junction High School taught by Jessica Sellars, a graduate of the school who earned her bachelor's degree from Missouri Southern State University and her masters of art education from Pittsburg State University. The art teacher taught for 20 years at Coronado High School, located in Henderson, Nev.

    April 13, 2014 2 Photos

  • ryan richardson Ryan Richardson: K-9 unit receives protection from donors

    I know I write a lot about pet advocacy in this column, but for a moment, I want to write about pet heroes.

    April 13, 2014 1 Photo

  • 091108-Frankie-Meyer_c.jpg Frankie Meyer: Website helps locate library microfilms

    Family history researchers must be determined sleuths to learn about some ancestors who don't show up in easily-obtained records. This week, I learned about a free resource that will help in the search of elusive ancestors.

    April 13, 2014 1 Photo

  • images_sizedimage_032123610 Patty Crane: Reporter's mea culpa found in identity theft

    As I was browsing the library's list of new materials for March, "True Story: Murder, Memoir, Mea Culpa" by Michael Finkel caught my attention.

    April 14, 2014 1 Photo

  • 091108-Frankie-Meyer_c.jpg Frankie Meyer Website helps locate library microfilms

    Family history researchers must be determined sleuths to learn about some ancestors who don't show up in easily-obtained records. This week, I learned about a free resource that will help in the search of elusive ancestors.

    April 14, 2014 1 Photo

  • images_sizedimage_312124454 Linda Cannon: Gardening book helps plan for spring

    In springtime, many of us think of gardening, so, come snow or sleet or whatever, it's time to get into those gardening books and see what improvements can be made to our yards (or decks or patios if that's all you have).

    April 6, 2014 1 Photo

  • ryan richardson Ryan Richardson: Pet deposits legal in Missouri, vary by state

    Building upon last week's column about what goes into moving and renting with pets, I wanted to touch on something that I wasn't too sure a lot of people were familiar with. I had a few people ask me about the legalities of a pet deposit and how it applies to residents in Missouri.

    April 6, 2014 1 Photo

  • 091108-Frankie-Meyer_c.jpg Frankie Meyer: Website allows access to news archives

    Between 1982 and 2011, the National Endowment for the Humanities and the Library of Congress worked together to develop a program called "Chronicling America." Each year, NEH gave monetary awards to institutions in various states to digitize 100,000 pages of old newspapers that relate to each state's history.

    April 6, 2014 1 Photo

  • 040214 LIFE barbershop2_c.jpg Barbershop choirs grow in popularity thanks to singing TV shows, pop culture

    Singers call it the "angel's voice." The phenomenon occurs when a group of singers reach an identical chord, voices blended together as one, the harmonics justly tuned and balanced, creating a new frequency of sound that can "literally raise up the hair on the arm," said Don Snow.

    April 6, 2014 1 Photo

  • 091108-Frankie-Meyer_c.jpg Frankie Meyer: Berries were big business in Southwest Missouri history

    Recently, I noticed some blooms on my strawberry plants on the patio, and I was reminded of my youth in the Ozarks when children often earned money by picking strawberries in the fields of local farmers. I, along with my sisters, brother and all the other children in the area, looked forward to the experience each summer.

    March 31, 2014 1 Photo