Alice in Jeopardy, by Ed McBain

Alice is a widow following her husband's death in a boating accident eight months before the start of the book. She's struggling to cope to bring up her two children, while she waits for the insurance company to pay out on the $250,000 life insurance. Then, her children are abducted and she gets a phone call telling her that she must get $250K together or the kids will be

While ostensibly a crime novel, this story felt rather like a farce: Alice wants to follow the kidnappers' directions and not contact the police, but her maid decides that they should be involved. Then when the police don't seem to take any notice of her, she contacts the FBI. Cops and FBI descend on Alice, and began separate cack-handed attempts to solve the crime, while all the time Alice is just trying to get her kids back. But that's just the start.

McBain juggles a lot of stories in this book - so many people all have their own perspective on the situation and are trying, for one reason or another, either to help Alice or themselves. What is impressive is that despite there being so many people with slightly different motivations, I didn't find myself getting lost, or forgetting who was who. This was in contrast to Altered Carbon, which I read recently and had trouble with because for exactly this reason.

The actual story was perhaps the only weakness in the book - the identity of the kidnappers is a little bit of a non-surprise - but that is a minor niggle as the fun to be had was in seeing how many different stories McBain could keep in the air at once.

Really good.

Completed : 04-Aug-2007

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