Abducted at the age of sixteen and coerced into assisting the Jacoby crime family, Shannon Bliss has finally found a way out. She desperately wants to resume some semblance of normal life, but she also knows she has some unfinished business to attend to. She has enough evidence to put her captors behind bars for a very long time.
When Shannon contacts private investigator and former cop Matthew Dane to help her navigate her reentry into society, she quickly discovers that gaining her freedom doesn’t mean her troubles are over. For one thing, her brother is the leading candidate in the race for Illinois governor, and news of her escape will create a media frenzy. For another, the ransom her family reportedly paid years earlier appears to have been a scam; no one knows what happened to the money. And then there’s the fact that Shannon’s escape involved faking her own death. If the Jacoby family learns she is still alive, they’ll stop at nothing to silence her.
If justice is to be done, and if Shannon’s life is ever to get on track again, Matthew will need to discover exactly what happened to her–even if it means stirring up a hornet’s nest of secrets.
Genre: Inspirational Suspense
If I had to use one word to describe Taken, the newest Christian fiction from Dee Henderson, I think it would be COMPLEX. I have read almost everything Dee Henderson has written and find myself amazed each time I read a new book - her ability to weave the complexities of a mystery, crimes, criminals, victims, survivors, and relationships continues to astound me. Taken is a completely stand-alone book with its own story, complexities, and primary characters; but as a reader, you'll enjoy visiting again with some of the characters from Full Disclosure and Unspoken. You don't need to read either of those books to be touched and affected by Taken, but your experience is certainly enhanced if you have background on the primary characters in those stories.
Ms. Henderson weaves a wonderful story of family dynamics, a crime family that rivals the mob, friendships borne out of necessity, a survivor who comes out stronger than anyone could ever expect, and a former cop who is the absolute perfect man to help our heroine re-enter her life.
The author develops Matthew as an incredibly insightful man, one who is secure in his faith but finds it tested as he helps Shannon navigate her re-entry. I felt I could literally hear his voice and I feel he always knows exactly what to say and when to say it to help Shannon. I was amazed at the depth of the situations that Ms. Henderson includes in the story, but at the same time, leaving so much up to the reader to infer. Matthew's ability to know how things should progress and his ability to understand what Shannon isn't telling him through her actions makes him a wonderfully endearing man. He's incredibly sensitive to Shannon's needs and has an amazing ability to analyze facts and situations and surmise cause and effect, and the impact on Shannon and her family. I only wish I had the eloquence with words that Ms. Henderson has to adequately explain how wonderful Matthew is. He and Shannon create a simple but comfortable relationship quickly and while I wouldn't call this a romance novel, per se, the foundation of a deeper relationship between Matthew and Shannon is definitely laid.
Matthew and Shannon's faith both play a role in this story. God, and their faith, are just another character in the story and conversations about both are comfortable and delightful. A wonderful example near the end of the book really struck me. During a scene where Matthew said a simply prayer over their lunch, Shannon pauses afterwards, remarking that Matthew is good at speaking his mind to God. He remarks that he believes she is too. Her response is, "Not out loud." Matthew's response was "You can learn. Because if you want to share a prayer with me, you'll either need to say it out loud or write it down and let me read it." Shannon asks if Matthew wants her to share her prayers, to which he responds, "Yes. Or at least tell me what you're talking about with God. He's your best friend, Shannon. It's kind of hard to really know you if I don't know what you and God are talking about." What a wonderful insight into a natural, comfortable relationship with God.
While Shannon's story is complex, and I often found myself re-reading certain passages to ensure I understood what was being discussed, there were also aspects of the story that were left up to the reader's imagination. I found that an interesting approach to writing a suspenseful novel. The author provides details to set the stage for certain circumstances but allows the reader to fill in the blanks of certain details of the story without it being spelled out. It enables the reader to feel a part of the story as I'm sure my experience reading Taken will differ from another reader's as our views on life will shape how we fill in those aspects of the story left to our imagination.
Ultimately, Taken is an emotionally wrenching Christian suspense novel with all the characteristics we've come to know and love from Dee Henderson. I found myself turning the pages faster and faster to see what came next, while also wanting to slow down and savor the story in the moment. I found myself finishing this book quickly, but knowing that I'll turn around and read it again and savor so many intricacies that can only be appreciated the second time around. Taken has a permanent place on my shelf, and in my heart.Disclosure: I received a free copy in exchange for an honest review
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