Taken – Dee Henderson – Bethany House Publishers – Published 28 April 2015
Abducted at the age of sixteen and coerced into assisting the Jacoby crime family, Shannon Bliss has finally found a way out. She desperately wants to resume some semblance of normal life, but she also knows she has some unfinished business to attend to. She has enough evidence to put her captors behind bars for a very long time.
When Shannon contacts private investigator and former cop Matthew Dane to help her navigate her reentry into society, she quickly discovers that gaining her freedom doesn’t mean her troubles are over. For one thing, her brother is the leading candidate in the race for Illinois governor, and news of her escape will create a media frenzy. For another, the ransom her family reportedly paid years earlier appears to have been a scam; no one knows what happened to the money. And then there’s the fact that Shannon’s escape involved faking her own death. If the Jacoby family learns she is still alive, they’ll stop at nothing to silence her.
If justice is to be done, and if Shannon’s life is ever to get on track again, Matthew will need to discover exactly what happened to her–even if it means stirring up a hornet’s nest of secrets.
I really liked this book. It’s an original mix of suspense that is both relaxing and yet so very engaging.
Shannon Bliss was abducted at the age of sixteen. Now eleven years on she has escaped from her captors and is ready to put her life back together. And Shannon has found the man she wants to help her through the transition: Matthew Dane, former police officer and private investigator whose own daughter was kidnapped. Taken, at its heart, is a book about a victim of a tragedy returning home, trying to put her life back together, balancing the memories of the past with dreams for the future, as well as finding justice for those responsible.
Taken is written from Matthew’s perspective, which gives the book a very interesting angle. While the focus of the book is on Shannon’s journey because it is told through Matthew’s point of view it is also about how to best help survivors of tragedy and, because of his policing and investigator background, managing the legal and justice side of the case. The reader learns about the case and Shannon’s abduction as Matthew does, although we never really get a whole lot of details about Shannon’s time with the kidnappers. I would have liked to hear a few more details instead of it just being alluded to how terrible it was, but it does work as it is.
Taken is a layered story. Initially the focus is on how to move forward with the investigation and then it becomes about Shannon, her life and how she copes with the first few weeks of freedom. It’s about relationships, faith in hard circumstances and surviving. There is also some romance, although it really is more a few sweet moments and a beautiful friendship that gradually becomes more. I liked Matthew, who is steady and strong, as all Dee Henderson’s male leads tend to be. I would have liked to read a little more of his backstory, particularly details about how his daughter was kidnapped, when, why and how she was returned. The readers also gets to see some familiar faces, including Ann and Paul, Bryce and Charlotte, and even Rachel and Cole (those who have read all of Dee’s previous books will understand who I’m talking about). Taken is a standalone, although with all the familiar characters it does feel like a continuation of a series, although the plot is completely separate.
Now, let me address the question long-term fans of Dee’s writing will be asking. Is Taken like her old books or her new ones? Taken is written in a similar style to Dee Henderson’s latest books. I know that some people who loved Dee’s O’Malley series and Uncommon Heroes series have not, to the same extent, enjoyed her new style of writing that began in Full Disclosure and has continued through Unspoken and Undetected. The former certainly were action-packed suspense novels with a strong emphasis on romance, while the latter had all the same elements of suspense, family, relationships and romance, but seemed longer reads, with more details, slower plot lines and in some cases less emphasis on quick resolutions. I personally love both styles and all of Dee Henderson’s books. I can hear Dee Henderson’s artistic voice in both styles, however I can note that they are different. Taken continues in the new style with characters who are eloquent, thoughtful and reflective. The plot reads at a slower pace, although the topic is that of suspense, mystery, action and crime solving.
I really enjoyed Taken. It was refreshing, renewing and highly enjoyable. As always I eagerly await Dee Henderson’s next book.
The publishers provided a complimentary copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.
Genre: Christian suspense.
Themes: Abduction, survivors of. Romance. Crime.
Published: 28 April 2015 by Bethany House.
Format: Hardcover, paperback, ebook, audiobook. 432 pages.
Author’s website: Dee Henderson.