Franklin Allen Leib, a former naval officer and the highly acclaimed author of the bestselling Fire Arrow, has crafted a legal thriller as suspenseful as it is thought-provoking in The House of Pain.
When a spoiled teen is kidnapped outside her prestigious prep school, her parents are faced with the horror only those who've lost a child can know. In their desperation, afraid to contact the police, they enlist the help of millionaire "Crazy Johnny," a former Vietnam tunnel rat. A sufferer from post-traumatic stress disorder due to the brutality he saw children endure in the war, he agrees to help the girl's father, but is afraid that if they pay up, the girl will be killed anyway.
Crazy Johnny tracks down the kidnappers, determined that the only way to save Sally is to free her by force. Blood is spilled, and only in its aftermath does the true nature of the crime emerge. It is then up to the United States legal system to judge Johnny's vigilantism, and up to an old-time attorney and a young woman lawyer to see that justice emerges from the courtroom.
"An interesting story, this legal thriller will make a fast read for teens." - School Library Journal
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A deep compassion for fellow Vietnam veterans runs through Leib's (Fire Arrow) gripping courtroom drama about a Connecticut kidnapping rescue that goes horribly wrong. Sally Collins is 15 when she is abducted in a van outside the Westport Country Day School. Despite the family's apparent wealth, her father is broke and unable to meet the kidnappers' half-million-dollar demand. He turns to John Dietrich (aka Crazy Johnny), the girl's godfather, who cut his teeth on rescue missions in war-torn Hue. Johnny saves Sally, but not before killing her captors during a hallucinatory flashback triggered by his post-traumatic stress disorder. The courtroom battle that ensues when Johnny comes to trial reveals the case to be more complicated than at first it seemed--and little Sally less the ingenue. And Johnny turns out to be the real victim as he is forced again to confront the haunting guilt of his discovery, in Hue in 1968, of a basement full of dead children. Leib keeps the pace brisk and alternates effectively between his beleaguered protagonist and the suffering Collins family. In prose that's short and sharp, if somewhat canned, this solid legal thriller never loses contact with the moral questions that lie at its center.