The Candidate’s Daughter by Catherine Lea is a fast-moving story spiked with high-octane suspense. You may find the main characters difficult to like when the story begins, but, as the characters develop, you’ll find yourself drawn into caring about their lives. The author paints a picture of two psychologically complex women with realistic motivations. In addition to the excellent characterizations, the action never lets up.
Kelsey Money is a small time thief whose boyfriend has plans to hit the Big Time by ransoming the local Senatorial candidate’s daughter. The boyfriend and his drug-addicted brother bring her in to their plans; the story begins with Kelsey snatching the child and badly injuring the girl’s teacher. Kelsey believes that they plan to return six-year-old Holly McClaine, who has Down’s Syndrome, safely home once they get their payoff. She soon realizes that she’s been kept in the dark about a lot of things: she’s been framed, and the trusting, helpless little girl is in mortal danger.
Holly’s mother, Elizabeth McClaine, has never overcome the grief precipitated by the knowledge that her only child will never be the perfect baby to complete her perfect family. Postpartum depression, alcohol, and increasing emotional estrangement from her politician husband have turned her into a shell of the woman she once believed herself to be. When Holly is kidnapped from her school, and Holly’s nanny is later murdered in the McClaine’s home, Elizabeth finds herself mobilizing all of the resources available to her to save the child she had never really accepted into her heart. With limited time, it may just be too little, too late.
The Candidate’s Daughter strikes all the right notes. It deals realistically with all the emotions a woman who is not prepared for a disabled child might feel. It also draws an excellent portrait of the complicated emotions of a young woman who grew up in a tragically abusive environment and later gravitates toward abuse in her own relationship. This is a suspense novel with a good old-fashioned theme framed up in the action — a story about complex mother/daughter bonds, and ultimately, about redemption. I hate to admit to it when it happens, but around the ending somewhere, I had a good cry.
For the men in the audience, forget all that drippy, feminine stuff – the story rushes along with chase scenes, a tough chick fighting it out against evil bad guys, and a cinematically-imagined ending that would do any Hollywood Blockbuster proud. We’re talking about don’t-even-think-about-putting-this-book-down levels of suspense as the story races in to the final chapters.
For those interested in the grammar and punctuation report, this book passes on any standard. It has few editing problems and would certainly pass as a traditionally published work. Kudos to the author for the respect she shows her reader by giving them a finished product that was clearly lovingly crafted.
What didn’t I like? The beginning is a little slow as the author builds the essential back-story for Elizabeth and Richard McClaine. There were a few plot elements that did not feel fully grounded in reality. Additionally, Kelsey was subject to injuries that might have been expected to disable her for a few days, and yet she kept going.
Overall, I enjoyed the heck out of this story. I give it 4 stars, and I recommend it for readers who enjoy a suspenseful tale with well-drawn female characters at the helm. At the time of this review, the ebook is available for only $2.99, and it is also available through the Kindle Lending Library. Click here to purchase. I don’t think you will be disappointed!