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Before the end of the first chapter of "In Desperation," Rick Mofina's newest entry in the Jack Gannon series, Tilly, the eleven year old daughter of Cora Martin, has been kidnapped by two gunmen, who tell her that her boss has stolen five million dollars from them, and that he has five days to return it or Tilly will be killed, threatening the same fate if the police are called in. In her desperation, Cora calls the only family she has, that person being the brother with whom she has had no contact for over twenty years: Jack Gannon.
Gannon, a 35 year old loner from blue collar Buffalo, New York, is also a Pulitzer Prize winning journalist with a national wire service. And the call he receives from Cora is more unsettling to him than anything he can recall. When she was seventeen and he was twelve, she was his hero, his big sister protector, until she left some twenty years ago and never returned, leaving her family to embark on a futile search for her over the ensuing years. Her pleas to Jack to help her find the niece he never knew he had take him from Juarez, Mexico, "one of the world's most violent cities with a homicide rate greater than any other city on earth, where he has been working on a story dealing with the drug cartels that had taken over every aspect life in that country, and go to the suburbs of Phoenix, Arizona where Cora lives. He insists that the police be notified, despite the kidnappers' threat, which only widens the danger as it appears, as has been widely discussed in the press in the novel as well as the real life media that surrounds us all, that police agencies in the US have been infiltrated by the cartel members, an acknowledged fact of life in Mexico.
Except for the final few pages, all the ensuing action takes place over a five day period, hard to believe for all the action that is packed into that time frame. The reader is teased from the first with references to a secret that Cora will not reveal, something from her past that she convinces herself cannot possibly have any connection with her present crisis. Cora's boss, the one who is supposed to have pulled off this rip off of some very dangerous men, seems to have disappeared, and all attempts to locate him end in failure.
Always engrossing, the book has the high level of suspense typical of Mr. Mofina's writing. One quibble this reader had was that I found it less than credible that Gannon, already suspecting that the investigation may have been compromised, approaches a lead, a man with a very unsavory background, giving him full details of the investigation to that point in order to elicit information from him that will give him further avenues to pursue. But hey, desperate times call for desperate measures. Jack's journalistic instincts push him to proceed, and put him in a difficult position - he has a job to do, and a story to write, even as he fights to distance himself from the fact that he is writing about his own family. Bodies start showing up, killed in gruesome ways, and they must find Tilly before she becomes just one more. They discover that an assassin, or sicario, has been dispatched to find those...