“And Then There Was One,” by Patricia Gussin. Oceanview Publishing. 312 pages. $25.95.
Katie and Scott Monroe, a most loving couple, are well established in their professions. Katie is a forensic pediatric psychiatrist, often called upon to offer expert testimony in child abuse cases. Scott is a former catcher for the New York Yankees. A very popular figure in the Yankee hierarchy, he now runs spring training operations in Tampa and also works as a television sports personality. They are visiting with Katie’s mother, Lucy, who lives in the Detroit area. A special reason for the trip from Florida is to attend a concert by Scott’s sister, Monica, a famous singer. The Monroes have a trio of 9-year old girls: identical triplets.
After a visit to a movie theater in a suburban mall with their older cousin, Danielle, two of the girls are suddenly missing. Alex and Sammie went to see one movie, while Danielle had taken Jackie to another – and now, with the theaters empty, Alex and Sammie are nowhere to be found. Soon enough, the security officer for the mall is hard at work, and before long an FBI team is involved headed by agent Tony Streeter.
Various theories regarding a motive for the abduction are posed and explored as the plot unfolds. Perhaps someone whom Katie’s testimony had put in jail is acting out of vengeance. Perhaps Maxwell Cutty, a man she is to testify against, is trying to make sure that she doesn’t. Perhaps a former boyfriend of Katie’s has gone off the deep end. Perhaps a bitter baseball player whose career Scott had stalled has it in for Scott. Perhaps it’s simply a kidnap for ransom. After all, the Monroes are fairly well-to-do and Monica Monroe is a millionaire many times over. Or, since these triplets are the children of an interracial marriage, perhaps this is a hate crime. (Perhaps there is one too many perhaps.)
As Streeter and others investigate, Ms. Gussin takes us into the minds of possible perpetrators. She does a convincing job of producing their thought patterns, including their whacky self-justifications for perverse behavior. Just as convincing – and even more harrowing – is the author’s presentation of the emotional turmoil that the parents go through. Readers can’t be sure if Katie and Scott will survive the ordeal. How will the abduction of her sisters affect young Jackie, who is already suffering something akin to survivor guilt?
To read the entire review as it appears in the November 18-24, 2010 issue of the Naples Florida Weeklyand other local editions, click here: Florida Weekly – Patricia Gussin pdf.