You notice a strange white car following you. Initially, you dismiss it. Maybe you are seeing things. Then you start to receive strange phone calls from a blocked number. The caller doesn't speak, he or she hangs up after a few seconds. Could this mean something? Maybe. You let all of that go to enjoy a picnic with your husband and son. Then tragedy strikes on a day that was supposed to be filled with joy.
And all of that is in just the first chapter of The Panic Zone by Rick Mofina, the second novel in the Jack Gannon series.
Emma Lane of Big Cloud, Wyoming, is left to pick up the pieces after a car accident takes the life of her husband, Joe, and son Tyler. Emma accepts Joe's death, she felt him slip away while holding his hand amidst the pieces of metal and glass. But in her heart, Emma knows she saw someone rescue Tyler. She tells anyone who will listen that Tyler is alive, but Emma's words are dismissed as the ramblings of a grieving mother. To make matters worse, Emma receives another mysterious phone call. This time the caller speaks, "Your baby is alive." Will anybody believe the anguished mother? How will she find Tyler?
Emma's story is just the beginning of this intricate plot. A reporter in Rio de Janeiro gets a tip about a big story. But before reporter Gabriella Rosa and a co-worker can get the story, the tipster, Maria Santo, and the journalists are killed by a bomb. Enter Jack Gannon, a reporter from the New York office. Gannon is dispatched to put together the pieces of the puzzle. Gannon is loathed by his Brazilian counterparts, who feel he isn't experienced enough. Despite the animosity, Gannon is undeterred. Attempts on his life can't stop this determined man. Gannon picks up where Maria Santo left off, investigating a Brazilian law firm, which serves as a front for illegal adoptions, human trafficking, and many other nefarious deeds. Piecing the puzzle together takes Gannon to London, Morocco, the Bahamas and Wyoming. Every step of Gannon's odyssey is filled with danger.
There are so many characters and locations, it was a little hard for me to keep it straight. We have government official Robert Lancer, who is hell bent on capturing rogue, ex-CIA scientist Gretchen Sutsoff. This particular scientist is determined to make the world pay for her pain. How she intends to do that is rather disturbing, you'll just have to read the book to find out, but I can tell you it involves experimenting on human subjects!
Human trafficking, illegal adoptions, and questionable science experiments, any one of those topics alone would make for a good book. At times I was wondering how does this all come together? It felt like reading a full season of 24. The conspiracy at the heart of the novel is extremely complex. In real life, I have a hard time believing it could be pulled off. But as a work of fiction, I enjoyed it. As the final 80 pages ticked away, I was reading at a rapid pace. You pull for Emma and Jack immediately because they are everyday people. They are people you come across on your way to work or the grocery store. Does Emma get Tyler back? Will Jack get the story? Will Gretchen be stopped? Of course I won't answer those questions, but you will quickly get sucked into this story.
Rating: Give it a try
Notes: I received a copy of the novel from Planned Television Arts in exchange for an honest review. For more information on author Rick Mofina visit: http://www.rickmofina.com/
Stay tuned I'm currently reading another mystery, The Insider. A review is coming next week!