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Tuesday 17 January 2017

‘Method 15/33’ by Shannon Kirk

Published by Sphere,
14 July 2016.
ISBN 978-0-7515-6431-0

This debut novel is one that I believe will have mass appeal. It is a psychological thriller with a difference in that a kidnap situation is turned on its head with the kidnapper becoming the victim.

Lisa Yyland is a heavily pregnant sixteen year old who is snatched from her home in Barnstead, New Hampshire. She is held in one room of a large isolated house and it soon becomes clear that her kidnapper and his associates intend to take her baby and kill her.

Told retrospectively from seventeen years ahead, we know that somehow Lisa escaped but until the climatic conclusion there are no clues as to what her situation has become or why she is retelling her story now.

The book starts with Lisa four days into her captivity. From a wealthy family, she is something of a child genius and has her own laboratory in the basement at home where she conducts experiments. Lisa applies her meticulous scientific processes to her current situation and tells the back story while she analyses and understands her predicament. From the start the reader is aware that the kidnappers have made a huge mistake snatching Lisa and very soon they are going to suffer in the worst possible way.

Born with the extraordinary ability to switch her emotions on and off, Lisa can focus on tasks without the influence of emotions getting in the way, although with the hormones of pregnancy she doesn't always manage to achieve it. As with many scientists, Lisa is not a social person so the isolation of confinement does not have the crippling impact it would have on other victims.

She spends her days thinking lovingly of her unborn child and rehearsing escape scenarios. She makes mental notes of behaviour patterns and timings, and turns everything around her into an inventory asset that can be used as a weapon for her escape and revenge if she can just figure out how. Throughout the story there is an ever-present awareness that time is rapidly running out and with it Lisa's options and this creates a real page-turning sense of urgency.

Told from the viewpoints of the Lisa and also FBI Special Agent Roger Lui who is trying to find a missing girl, the story explores the hideous nature of crimes against children with the life-long affects both to the victims and their families and on someone meting revenge. An excellent and totally engaging read.


Reviewer Christine Hammacott

Shannon Kirk is a practicing attorney and a law professor. She attended West Virginia Wesleyan and St. John's Universities, is a graduate of Suffolk Law School, and was a trial lawyer in Chicago prior to moving to Massachusetts. She has been honoured three times by the Faulkner Society in the William Faulkner-William Wisdom Creative Writing Competition. She lives in Massachusetts with her husband, a physicist, and their son. Method 15/33 was Kirk's debut novel. Foreign rights have now been sold in 20 countries.

Christine Hammacott lives near Southampton and runs her own design consultancy. She started her career working in publishing as a book designer and now creates covers for indie-authors. She writes page-turning fiction that deals with the psychological effects of crime. Her debut novel The Taste of Ash was published in 2015.

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