There’s a difference between a vigilante and a hero spurred on by past events, hell-bent on righting the world’s wrongs. Vigilantes are all about the result (read: lots of killing), but heroes, even the damaged ones, know that the ends don’t always justify the means. Heroes know that a heap of wrongs (read: a trail of corpses in their wake) don’t make a right. Kick Lannigan, the fiercely independent and stubbornly capable protagonist in the first of Chelsea Cain’s (Let Me Go, etc.) phenomenal new series, is most definitely a hero. Kidnapped at age six and rescued five long years—and many practical skills—later, she’s a force to be reckoned with, equally adept with a handgun as she is with a paper clip and a set of locked handcuffs. Kick’s obsession with child abductions both dictates her life and provides constant reminders of the psychological scars she carries. Every time an amber alert is issued, Kick is waiting, ready not to punish the kidnappers but to try, in vain, to save herself time and time again.
In this novel, it’s the disappearance of two children close to her Portland, Oregon, home that puts Kick on high alert, particularly when she’s approached by the mysterious John Bishop, a man with as many fancy—and dangerous—toys as Kick has in her mini arsenal. She reluctantly joins forces with Bishop and sets off on a quest to recover young Adam Rice and Mia Turner. It’s Kick’s complicated, intractable relationship with her past—and particularly the man who kidnapped her and whose approval she both craves and detests—that make her a believably flawed heroine. She’s not just a 21-year-old with a gun (and some throwing stars): she’s a woman grappling with the aftermath of an event that most of us can’t even fathom. And we desperately want her to succeed, at any cost.