Facets, by Lawrence De Maria. St. Austin’s Press. 201 pages (equivalent). Kindle E-book $2.99.
Jake Scarne Thriller #6 is a steamroller of action and calculation. It begins with pieces of background, the first of which is set in 1990 at Catholic school for troublesome girls in mountainous Chamonix, France. A beautiful, self-assured blonde named Maura Dallas is characterized by her quick wit and aversion to discipline or conformity. For two years, she has roomed with her best friend, black-haired Argentinian Alana Loeb, another beneficiary of the school’s dependence on wealthy parents without whom it wouldn’t survive. Maverick daughters of such parents must be tolerated. The wealthy Dallassio family, deep into criminal activity, can make sure their daughter Maura graduates.
A scene in 1995 takes us to Boston where Maura is found flourishing on the Harvard Law Review and bedding down with Lucas Brandeford, one of the junior law professors and a rising star. Maura is a shrewd seducer and manipulator. Her brains are enough to get her through, but she hedges her bets with her body. As she is throughout her life, Maura is protected by Victor Anastasia, a senior enforcer and family bodyguard in the Dallassio criminal empire. When Maura dumps Brandeford, he sounds threatening. Anastasia rigs his arrest for cocaine possession, and the enraged suitor is forced to resign.
The main story, set primarily in New York, unfolds in 2015. It involves Maura’s rebellious and somewhat estranged daughter, Alana, a twenty year old Barnard student taking some of her classes at Columbia University. She is having an affair with an adjunct teacher, Luke Willet. Agreeing to take Alana to the airport, Willet drugs and abducts her. He has a very well thought out plan for a huge ransom, to be paid out in a mix of cut and uncut diamonds. Mr. De Maria describes the ingenious scheme in meticulous detail, hooking his readers for the rest of the journey.
Jake Scarne enters the story when he is hired by Maura Dallas , still a beauty in her mid-to-late forties. She is accompanied by Victor Anastasia, who knows Scarne’s agency partner, Noah Sealth. (Where does De Maria get these names?) Maura hires Jake’s team to find her daughter. She insists that there be no police involvement, and she explains how she’s received convincing evidence from the kidnapper that Alana is alive. Jake’s follow-up questions reveal what a pro he is and how much Anastasia and others have tried to do on their own. Maura explains that she has raised Alana as a single mother.
Jake is concerned that the ransom demand has not yet been made. . . .
To read the entire review, as it appears in November 18, 2015 Fort Myers Florida Weekly and the November 19 Bonita Springs and Punta Gorda / Port Charlotte editions, click here: Florida Weekly – Facets