Thursday, March 16, 2017
What Comes Next by John Katzenbach
Jennifer is running away from home. The sixteen year old can't endure another day of her mother living with her horrible step-father or the school where she has no friends. As she strides towards the bus station, her world is abruptly ended when a van stops and she is yanked off the street. Her captors are a couple, young people whose minds are in total sync. Michael is a computer whiz who thinks of himself as a star in the online world. Linda is a business woman who thinks act is fine but only if there's money to be made. Together they make a murderous, sociopathic pair.
When Jennifer's absence is noticed, Terri, the detective who catches the call, isn't sure what to think. She has been to Jennifer's house two other times when the teenager ran away. Isn't this just one more attempt, perhaps a successful one this time? When a retired psychology professor comes forward and says he saw the abduction, she starts to believe it could be true. But her police routines and procedures show no clue as to what as happened to Jennifer.
Jennifer is now know as #4. She is confined in a basement with her every move captured on a camera and broadcast on the Internet. Her captors sell subscriptions on the darkest parts of the Internet to those who are fascinated by the thought of a helpless girl confined and condemned to endure whatever her captors want to do to her. The subscription is interactive so that the viewers can post suggestions or bet on when various acts might occur. As the number implies, Jennifer is not the couple's first victim and the first three are all dead.
Jennifer's only chance is a strange trio of people. Professor Adrian Thomas is recently retired, a former psychology professor who spent his life experimenting and observing the far reaches of the mind. He has, however, just gotten the news that he has a neurological condition that will quickly take his mind and reasoning from him. Detective Terri Cross is willing to help but burdened with too many cases and too little time. Finally, there is the man who is a sexual offender himself but who the professor convinces to be his guide through the hidden, forbidden parts of the Internet. Can this unlikely trio get to Jennifer before her time is up?
John Katzenbach has long been recognized as one of the masters of psychological suspense working today. This novel is one of his best efforts. The action moves inevitably to a gruesome end with the tension tightening and tightening until the reader both dreads and is compelled to continue reading to see what occurs. This book is recommended for mystery and suspense readers.