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A wealthy woman is abducted in the parking garage of an upscale mall. The investigation will uncover family secrets that could have triggered the incident. Adultery, shady business practices, a double life, and illegal gambling are part of the labyrinth the investigators will have to go through. A couple of failed escape attempts provide the story with action and suspense and then the end will come after the victim is released by police in a dramatic rescue operation. In the end, the woman's joy when reuniting with the family is crushed by the discovery of who planned the abduction.
A high stakes kidnapping with multiple suspects and motives forces a detective and her partner to uncover the clues and rescue the wife of a millionaire in the third novel from Elustondo (author of Turtle Creek). The Beach House Hostage ratchets up the intensity early on with the kidnapping of Lisa Walker, wife of Houston businessman James Walker. Detective Alyssa Anderson quickly discovers that many people close to Lisa are keeping secrets, and more than one could stand to benefit from holding her hostage. Son Andrew is drowning in gambling debts—and harboring an Ivy league secret. Lisa’s best friend has been rekindling an old relationship with James behind Lisa’s back, James’s business rival would gain if James doesn’t submit a bid for a major construction project. And James himself, never one to hesitate on using down-and-dirty tricks to get ahead, could be behind the kidnapping himself.

Low on violence, and high on classic whodunnit puzzles, this polished mystery will appeal to readers who enjoy a good crime puzzle without the gore—but with a welcome connection to the real world. As Lisa tries to find a way to escape her kidnappers, Anderson and her partner Ramon work to hunt down leads that will bring her home safely, before narrowing in on someone the reader may not suspect, all as Anderson must navigate a world where she has to state directly to people “You’re not the first to act according to stereotypes regarding women, especially women of color.”

Elustondo deftly establishes multiple motives for Lisa’s kidnapping, all of which feel plausible. A lack of cooperation, and clues that point at multiple suspects help maintain the possibility that anyone could be the kidnapper up until the very end. The storyline of Andrew’s gambling debts feels less compelling than the others, but Anderson and her partner Ramon Reyes prove compelling detectives, and Elustondo brings the twisty case to a satisfying conclusion.

Takeaway: A polished, high stakes whodunnit finds Houston detectives facing a clever kidnapping.

Great for fans of: Chevy Stevens’s Still Missing, D.J. Palmer's My Wife is Missing.

Production grades
Cover: A-
Design and typography: A
Illustrations: N/A
Editing: A-
Marketing copy: A