LOOK AGAIN by Lisa Scottoline

Book Quote:

“Ellen couldn’t stop looking at the white card, which read HAVE YOU SEEN THIS CHILD?В  The resemblance between the boy in the photo and her son was uncanny.В  They had the same wide-set eyes, smallish nose, and lopsided grin.В  Maybe it was the lighting on the porch….В  She held the photo closer, but came to the same conclusion.В  The boys could have been twins.”

Book Review:

Reviewed by Eleanor Bukowsky (APR 27, 2009)

In Lisa Scottoline’s Look Again, Ellen Gleeson is a reporter for a Philadelphia newspaper that is experiencing cutbacks, and she fears that she may be the next employee to get the ax. Her ace in the hole, besides the fact that she is very good at what she does, is that her editor and boss, Marcelo Cardoso, “a sexy Brazilian,” seems to have a thing for her (and the feeling is entirely mutual). She secretly thinks of Marcelo as “Antonio Banderas with a journalism degree.” Ellen needs her job because she is supporting not only herself but also a three-year-old child named Will. She found him when she was doing a story about nurses in a hospital’s pediatric intensive care unit. At the age of eighteen months, he was a patient being treated for a heart problem, and she fell in love with him. When Ellen finds out that his unwed mother wants to give him up, she arranges to adopt him. Since then, Will has become a healthy toddler who is the center of her life. Thanks to a devoted babysitter, Connie Mitchell, Ellen is able to pursue her career and be a good mother to her son.
Everything changes when Ellen receives a card in the mail with pictures of missing children. One of the boys, Timothy Braverman, bears an uncanny resemblance to Will. She dismisses her initial reaction, praying that this is merely one of those bizarre and inexplicable coincidences. However, as she looks into the matter further, she fears that her son’s history may be a bit more complicated than she realized.

Scottoline captures the dog-eat-dog world of print journalism, a moribund business in which a reporter’s next story may be her last. Now that “the epicenter of breaking news had moved to the Internet,” no one’s job is safe. One of Ellen’s colleagues, Sarah Liu, is an aggressive and manipulative woman who does her best to discredit Ellen, hoping to save her own position. As everyone waits for the other shoe to drop, Ellen goes on a Web site devoted to the return of Timothy Braverman. She is horrified to discover that the resemblance between Will and Timothy is too striking to be ignored.

The author makes the most of her supercharged plot. Ellen puts her work on the back burner, and plays private detective in an attempt to discover the link between Timothy and Will. She unearths shocking information and learns of several suspicious deaths that raise serious questions about what is really going on. If what she begins to suspect turns out to be true, Ellen may lose the one person she loves most of all. The scenes between Ellen and her little boy are beautifully crafted; she gives her son tender loving care, but when it is needed, she disciplines him with understanding, intelligence, and humor. Should she keep quiet and hope that her secret stays buried, or should she pursue her investigation to its possibly bitter end?

This is a classic page-turner, in which the reader learns, along with the protagonist, that nothing is at it seems, although there are enough clues to guess what is happening well before the explosive conclusion. Scottoline has a rat-a-rat writing style that keeps the action moving along briskly. Although the plot is far from realistic, in a genre thriller, the rules are a bit more flexible. If the writer generates a fair amount of suspense, holds our interest throughout, and doesn’t insult our intelligence egregiously, the book may be deemed a success. As an escapist novel with no pretentions to be anything more, Look Again gets high marks.

AMAZON READER RATING: stars-4-0from 262 readers
PUBLISHER: St. Martin’s Press; 1 edition (April 14, 2009)
REVIEWER: Eleanor Bukowsky
AUTHOR WEBSITE: Lisa Scottoline
EXTRAS: Excerpt
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April 27, 2009 В· Judi Clark В· No Comments
Tags:  В· Posted in: Thriller/Spy/Caper, US Mid-Atlantic

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