Aaron Greene is a shy, stay-in-the-background young Jewish boy, the child of shy, stay-in-the-background parents. Only a year out of high school, he has a part-time job as a mailboy in a large Atlanta bank. One morning, on his way to work, he is kidnapped and the kidnappers demand a ransom of ten million dollars – not from his parents, but from the bank that employs him.
The bank rejects the demand.
And what begins as a curious crime – the abduction of an unknown, a nobody – soon ignites a national crusade for Aaron’s safe return, because everyone, in one way or another, understands what it is like to be a nobody.
For the kidnappers, the money has no meaning. The mastermind, Ewell Pender, is a wealthy eccentric, an elderly board member of the bank, yet also the man who organizes the campaign to raise Aaron’s ransom. His criminal associates are young nonconformists, dreamers and daredevils. Keeping Aaron in the luxury of the Pender mansion is, to them, a clever and teasing adventure. For Aaron, it is not life-threatening; it is life-changing.
Caught in the mystery is a journalist who unwittingly is used as a pawn by the kidnappers to tell Aaron’s story, and also a detective who bends rules and follows his instinct as much as his training. For both, the kidnapping reveals a profound understanding of their own lives in the complex workings of the world around them.
Richly written, driven by baffling twists in plot, and featuring powerful portrayals of memorable characters, The Kidnapping of Aaron Greene goes beyond the elements of a classic crime. It is an experiment in human manipulation and behavior, and a riveting study of the passions and apathy historically exhibited by society.
Veteran author Kay delivers an edge-of-the-seat thriller that begins with the kidnapping of a nondescript young man whose unusual abductors are more focused on their philosophical message than on the $10-million ransom they demand for his safe return. Kay's (To Dance with the White Dog) ace here is the kidnapped man, Aaron Greene of Atlanta, a bank mail clerk, whose very commonness ironically propels him into a maelstrom of media attention. He makes clever use of digital technology as well, as Aaron's captors use popular local newspaper reporter Cody Yates's voice on their audiotapes to feed information to the media. Kay's true heroes are the men who do the behind-the-scenes legwork trying to solve the crime: detective Victor Menotti and Yates, whose dogged reporting contrasts with the frenzied hype that Kay lampoons along the way. Despite employing some stock characters--the arrogant bank president who cheats his board members, the manipulative lawyer who craves the bank president's job, the lawyer's wife who uses sexual liaisons to alleviate tedium--the author displays a knack for originality in his characterization of the innocent Aaron and his naive captors. He also manages to contrive a solid, old-fashioned love story involving Yates and a colleague. This is a clever, well-wrought tale from an author who knows how to do it.