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It is a warm, sunny Saturday in Bellview, Massachusetts, when Kevin and Maria Sanderson receive horrifying news—their seventeen-year-old daughter, Jenny, has been kidnapped. Left with nothing but a typewritten note that asks for a million dollars in return for Jenny, the Sandersons feel they have no choice but to pay the ransom.
Despite the kidnapper’s threats, the Sandersons enlist the help of the local police and the FBI, who devise a plan to catch the kidnapper at the time of the ransom drop. The kidnapper, however, outsmarts the FBI and makes off with the ransom money—without releasing Jenny. Suddenly questions begin to surface about whether Jenny was really kidnapped in the first place. As the police and FBI try to unravel this mystery, a number of suspects and possibilities emerge, including a teenager from a neighboring town, the leaders of a prostitution ring, a family friend, and a runaway girl from another town.
In this gripping, fast-paced thriller, unexpected twists and turns in the investigation into a young girl’s mysterious disappearance ultimately lead law enforcement to the surprising discovery of what really happened to Jenny Sanderson.
A teenage girl goes missing without a clue. Then the parents get a ransom note for $1 million dollars, in cash - all fifties to be exact – about 45 pounds worth of bundled bills, to be left in a bathroom stall at a restaurant. An easy catch, I thought. After all, the kidnapper needs to go into the bathroom to get the money, and the cops will nab him. With the local police and FBI on the case, one would think they can and will deploy sufficient human assets to trap the guy, right? But when a clever twist is achieved by the criminal, the police and Feds lose the money and find themselves having been duped. At that point while reading this book my enjoyment factor was heightened, thinking to myself, “Geez this author is smart and I bet I’m in for a lot of surprises.” I’d call that the point in the story where “the roller coaster” went over the first peak and it was all twists and turns from then on.
So began Marked Money, a new suspense novel published by iUniverse, and the first book by author Jack Shevlin. Stereotyping his characters, such as typical detectives, or embellishing credible emotions from the parents of the missing girl, even providing the usual suspects of a who-done-it, Jack Shevlin blends his entire plot seamlessly into a very believable story. No super-human characters of strength or mental deduction, just ordinary folks caught up in extraordinary circumstances. Jack Shevlin’s style of writing lays out a profile of each person. At times he writes simultaneously about the superficial outwardly persona along with the character’s hidden agenda, thus totally creating a mental image as visual as watching a movie casted with good actors. The book paged very quickly because of the sophistication and respect the author has for his reader’s intelligence, doling out details at the right times, with the right emphasis of logical deductions, all while foreshadowing his ending brilliantly within the galley to create a “way cool” effect at the end. What more can one ask of a good story? Maybe an epilogue, which Marked Money has as well. Jack Shevlin sewed up the loose ends with what happened to everyone, and how things came to pass.
Marked Money is a perfect book to take on a flight, pick up for when you have an evening alone, or frankly whenever you want a novel which may be difficult - if not impossible - to figure out beforehand. Within the covers of a generally terse book, Jack Shevlin packed in some brilliant plot machinations, credible character development and excellent structural underpinnings of realism. But mostly his logical mind provided for a good storytelling “voice,” one which rang with his obvious enjoyment of writing the story as much as his hopes for his readers to enjoy the story. I certainly did. All I can say now is, “Jack, what took you so long to begin your writing career?”