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THE WRONG HOSTAGE


By Elizabeth Lowell

Avon, 2006 ($7.99)
ISBN: 978-0-06-082983-4

Reviewed by Shirley H. Wetzel

Grace Silva worked herself up from the grinding poverty of the barrio to become a well-respected federal judge in La Jolla, but her personal life leaves much to be desired. She and her husband Ted Franklin had long ago lost that loving feeling, and the divorce has finally come through. She is at first annoyed when people start calling at all hours trying to find Ted, and then alarmed when the calls take a sinister turn. Ted had taken their teenage son Lane to a boarding school south of the border, and a man named Carlos Calderon tells her that if Ted doesn't show up soon, well, she'd better head for Ensenada to discuss Lane's future ASAP.

When she gets to the school, she learns that Lane has become a hostage because of his father's shady dealings with some very unsavory and powerful characters. If Ted doesn't show up very soon, Lane will pay the price. His father is not as attached to the boy as his enemies believe him to be, and Grace knows it is up to her to save her son. She has no idea how to find Ted, but she knows who might be able to help - Joe Faroe, a government agent who went to prison for something he did not do. Grace was instrumental in sending him there, and even though he was exonerated she knew he might not be keen to help her. Joe had gone to work for a shadowy quasi-government agency that operates outside the law, and he had become one of the best specialists in kidnapping cases. Only problem is, he'd gotten fed up with the seamy world he'd been living in and retired, seeking a more tranquil life.

Joe does finally agree to help her, and they begin a whirlwind race against the clock to save the boy. There are bad guys aplenty on both sides of the border, but there are good guys too, including a priest who'd been demoted from the halls of the Vatican to the backwaters of a Mexican boys' school, Joe's boss, former ambassador Steele, and some of the local Mexican villagers.

Lowell is a prolific and popular author, for good reason. This novel has plenty of suspense, just enough romance, and is a well-told tale.

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