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Anne Carson: fifteen, beautiful, wayward. Abducted.
Her rich family has closed ranks and summoned Frank Calder, ex-soldier and sacked police hostage negotiator. They want him to deliver the ransom money to the kidnappers. Frank wants them to call in the law, but the family refuses, since police bungling nearly cost the life of another Carson child kidnapped years before.
But are the two kidnappings connected? And is greed the motivation? Revenge? Or could it be something else? To find out, Frank Calder must go beyond his brief.
As Frank feverishly searches for suspects in the web of Carson family businesses and deals, marriages and indiscretions, rivalries and intrigues, he knows that if his instincts are wrong, the girl will surely die.
Australian ex-cop Frank Calder, now a self-described mediator, has his hands full in this hard-hitting standalone from Ned Kelly Award winner Temple (Truth). At the invitation of Pat Carson, "patriarch of the Carson dynasty," Calder visits the family compound outside Melbourne, where he meets Pat and his two sons, Barry and Tom. Tom's 15-year-old granddaughter, Anne, has been kidnapped, and the family wants Calder to deliver the $1 million ransom. Despite reservations, Calder agrees, and is sucked into a situation dealing with not only the demands of the kidnappers but the dysfunctional Carsons, whose history includes the earlier kidnapping of Barry's then-11-year-old granddaughter, Alice. Calder has to wonder "what sort of curse lay on this family... that their children were stolen from them, that those they touched they marked with crosses of ash." Calder handles the rough and tumble, as well as the pampered and the spoiled, in this gritty, well-executed tale of greed and vengeance.