Life-changing Decisions in Pittsburgh: Taken, Kathleen George


Dell, 2001

ISBN 0440236614 (ISBN13: 9780440236610)

Part of the Mysteries from Every State Reading Challenge

Taken coverSometimes the split-second decisions we make define our character, who we really are under all pretentions and all attempts to be “good” or “just” or “virtuous.” Sometimes those decisions can change the course of a person’s life.

The premise of the book felt like an episode of “What Would You Do?” But a good one.

Marina, a beautiful 30-something out-of-work actress who has just told her husband she wants a divorce—mainly caused by her husband’s violence, stemming from an inability to accept that he cannot father a child—sees a mother with a young baby in a stroller in the lobby of the Clark building in downtown Pittsburgh.

After getting on a bus a few minutes later, she can swear she sees the same baby. Except he is with a man and there is no sign of the mother, the stroller, a diaper bag or anything else. Like everyone else, Marina can just mind her own business, especially when she tries to talk to the baby and the man is visibly not comfortable with it.

However, Marina can feel something is wrong and decides to follow the man and baby into the inner city and her fate.

I really liked the flow of this book as well as the premise and plot. While not really a “who done it,” it was fun to try to figure out why this man had taken the baby and what would end up happening to him and to Marina.

The book had good descriptions of Pittsburgh, its architecture, culture, and people, giving the reader the atmosphere of the city in 2001.

The flow of the book was interesting. I really liked how the first part of the book was structured, where the reader didn’t really know where the book was going. The characters were also interesting, especially the bad guys. I actually felt like the bad guys were better-rounded characters than Marina, Christie, or Justin’s parents.

This book was quite different from all the detective mysteries I have been reading for this challenge, and I really enjoyed the change in formula. This book also introduces detective Richard Christie, who becomes the protagonist of the series.

Many reviewers found the book unbelievable and too full of coincidences. I have thought a lot about stories where coincidences and chance may make something unbelievable. However, I believe that it is the coincidences and the chance occurrences that make a story one worth telling. If things went like they should and people acted the way we expect them to, then the story wouldn’t be that interesting.

Some readers thought that Marina following the man with the baby into a dangerous neighborhood was too implausible. However, I can almost see myself (stupidly, granted) doing something similar if I felt that something was wrong and that my immediate action was required…At least I would hope to act that way rather than regret doing nothing later.

What would you do?

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