Tuesday, July 9, 2013

Traci Hohenstein's Cut and Run Follows Leads of Kidnapped Family in Florida... Then Leaves Us Hanging Re Rachel's Daughter!

"Several months after Mallory’s disappearance, Rachel had seen on the local news that another toddler had gone missing in the Miami area. She’d reached out to the boy’s mother, Janine Jensen, and they’d formed a tight bond. Using nothing but her instinct, Rachel had helped Janine rescue her son, Jack, from Janine’s estranged husband. Then they’d decided to team up and form a search-and-rescue operation for missing persons; thus, Florida Omni Search was born. 
"Since the company’s inception, they’d helped locate over a hundred missing people. Red Cooper, who was the lead detective on Mallory’s case, kept in touch with Rachel and decided to join the Florida Omni Search team after he retired from the police force. Ironically, it was Janine’s former husband, Scott Jensen, or Scotty, as he was called by family and friends, whom Rachel had come to Mexico to find. She’d received a tip while she was in Florida wrapping up another missing-persons case that Scotty had been linked to a child abduction ring that was busted in Cozumel. After the FBI seized computers belonging to members of the ring in a warrant search, they’d combed through all the files— and found a picture of Mallory along with several other photos of young children. Rachel had demanded to see the photo and had started to sob at the image of her round-faced toddler with large green eyes and red hair in pigtails...
~
“This is the missing family you told me about?” Rachel asked, juggling her cell phone and a manila file folder. As much as she tried to absorb the details of other ongoing cases, they remained vague in her mind; that was always the case when she was focused on chasing down leads about Mallory. 
“Yeah. We got an interesting twist in the case, though. Saturday night, we got a call on our tip line. The husband was found at a truck stop in Baton Rouge.” Janine hadn’t mentioned anything to Rachel about that this morning when Rachel had come in. Janine managed the office, including all the staff and the volunteers who ran their toll-free hotline. They got lots of calls because the number was publicized by the media so anonymous tips could be reported about missing people. “Just the husband?” 
“The wife and kids are still missing,” Red confirmed. Rachel put down the file she’d been staring at for the last hour and rubbed her eyes. “Okay. Bring me up to speed.” 
“Our crew had put up flyers in the usual truck stops and convenience stores within a three-hundred-mile radius of New Orleans. We got a call last night from someone who spotted one of our flyers at a truck stop in Jackson, Mississippi. The trucker, ah, his name is…” Rachel could hear paper rustling on the other end. “Keith Brunswick. He told us he bought Matt O’Malley dinner two nights ago in Baton Rouge. I guess Matt approached him in the truck stop parking lot and asked him for money. Keith, who seems like a friendly, honest type, invited Matt inside to eat dinner. Keith said Matt didn’t seem homeless, but that something about him was a little off.” 
“What was off?” 
“Matt looked…‘ down on his luck’ is how he put it. Described him as dressed in a wrinkled T-shirt and track pants. Other than that, he was clean, but didn’t talk much.”
~~~

Cut and Run:
(A Rachel Scott Adventure)
By Traci Hohenstein

It's been about a year since I've had the chance to read Traci Hohenstein.when Asylum Harbor and Burn Out   were published in one book. In a way, Cut and Run seemed to be two as well, and perhaps signals the end of the series since it ends with a teaser of a major breakthrough in finally finding Rachel's daughter... That should be a great book, don't you think? Whether it ends the series or not, it would be wonderful to find the child safe and able to be returned to her mother...

This novel has a somewhat unusual plot where an entire family disappears...but then the father is found and has retrograde amnesia, which of course also puts him as the top suspect in what happened to his wife and two children...

“I’m looking for Madame Verdene,” Rachel said.
“Well, you found her.” Rachel introduced herself and
 Red.  “We’re with Florida Omni Search. A family
disappeared near this area last week,
and we’re working to find them.” Madame
 Verdene narrowed her eyes and looked Rachel up
 and down, like a simple glance would reveal if
 she was telling the truth or not. “The O’Malleys?”
 “Do you know them?” Rachel asked, surprised.
Madame Verdene walked to the front of the
 store and picked up a duster. She proceeded
 to dust around the cashier stand. After a few beat
s she answered the question.
 “Erin O’Malley was a customer.” Madame Verdene
 put down the duster and lit a single black candle.
 Rachel thought about her answer for a minute.
“You said she was a customer. Not anymore?”
 Red shifted uncomfortably beside her. “That’s right.”
Madame Verdene looked Rachel straight in the eye.
 “What happened?” Rachel asked.
“She’s dead.”
~~~

 
Also, of course, it's not as simple as that...

Chris and Matt O'Malley had inherited the O'Malley Bail Bonds company from their father. They had also inherited their home, but Matt had bought out Chris' share when he decided he'd rather have a newer home.

Matt had also gone into investment planning, had renovated and upgraded their home and Erin and two sons lived happily and very comfortably. So a kidnapping was obviously possible...

Chris had hired Rachel's security company to help in the search activity. They worked well with official sources, but didn't have the mountains of bureaucracy to deal with...So, with sharing information, it was a good fit...
And indeed Rachel and retired police officer, Red Cooper found a few leads almost immediately... The family had been heading out for soccer practice, but had never made it...

When Rachel and Red met with Chris and his wife, they noticed some tension between the two as the discussion evolved around the business, their homes, and their lives together. Rachel later got some interesting clues from her while alone, indicating that Erin had visited a voodoo shop quite frequently and that she thought she might have been having an affair...

Indeed, even as Rachel was meeting with Madame Verdene and was being told that Erin was dead and receiving specific things from Madame's vision, the police were pulling a part of a body out of water! It later proved to be Erin...

But where were the boys and were they alive...

The search continued, but it was beginning to be clear that the FBI agent in charge of the case was not so willing to work with Omni. Actually, from a reader's standpoint it proved to be difficult too, since we are following Omni, but the FBI was gathering information too. However, finally, they did get together and with grudging guidance and agreement to include Omni, the groups' actions worked... This had, however, resulted in the old no-no issue of "show don't tell" to some extent...

To me, it would have been a better book if the various groups would have been working together and communicating on an ongoing basis. Perhaps that was the point being made by the author...that it is difficult when there are too many chiefs and not enough Indians? Still, it was interesting that when the husband, Matt, began to recover memory of parts of what had happened, it was Rachel he decided to talk and share with. That was understandable since Rachel's loss of her own child does result in a caring individual who works hard on cases... This was not the best of the three I've read from Hohenstein. Still, I enjoyed it. And if you enjoy following kidnap cases, or figuring out whodunit, I will admit that I didn't pick up on what actually happened until far into the book, so I think you may be stumped as well...

It is not a totally happy ending for everybody either... So, it was almost a relief to move on to a new contact about Rachel's daughter, only to be left hanging! LOL... I guess you'll just have to decide on this one...


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About the Author

Born in Moultrie, Georgia, Traci Hohenstein has lived all over the United States, including California, Hawaii, and Mississippi. Her extensive educational background spans a wide variety of studies, and a concentration in journalism heralded a career in writing for various media outlets on local and national levels. Drawing inspiration from the sensational 2005 disappearance of Natalee Holloway, Hohenstein set out to create a series that explores the enigma of missing-persons investigations. She launched the suspenseful Rachel Scott Adventures series with Burn Out and Asylum Harbor,and now continues the saga with her third entry, Cut and Run.