A teenage boy, Liam Shakespeare, is kidnapped by terrorists and held to ransom in his own house in London. Far away in Derbyshire, a girl called Jinny stumbles across strangers (two adults and a boy), arriving at a cottage in the middle of the night. Are they merely tourists, or something more sinister? And is Liam Shakespeare really being held in London, as it says on the news, or is he in fact the boy in the cottage?
This kidnapping story is made particularly interesting by the fact that it’s not merely about a couple of crooks wanting to make money. Gillian Cross invents a terrorist organisation called the Free People, which is intent on the abolishing of the family unit as a way of life. That might seem like laughable goal, but Cross expounds the views of the organisation in detail, and the Free People become all too realistic.
The book is not without its faults. Liam Shakespeare, who is cooped up in a room for much of the story, starts to lose his sense of identity, as he is fed a load of lies by his kidnappers. That’s all well and good, but the fact that it only takes a few days for the boy’s mind to play tricks on him seems a little forced. By the end of the story, the identity crisis is taken to a pretentious extreme; the author gets a little philosophical, but I couldn’t figure out what she was trying to say. The words looked good on paper, but felt empty, and made for an unsatisfying ending.
On a brghter note, the characters are great – especially the bad guys, who are by no means stereotypical villians, but damaged people with real problems and believable motives.
Overall, quite enjoyable – an average thriller.