Friday, September 5, 2014

One Kick

Oh my gosh, this was such a great book! One Kick is 306 pages of pure adrenaline; a true pedal to the metal non-stop action thrill ride. Cain’s latest is a page turning thriller which, no lie, reads like the screenplay for a new Hollywood blockbuster, featuring edge of your seat excitement and a roller coaster ride for your emotions, fraying your nerves and playing havoc with your heart. One Kick is the first installment in the new “Kick Lannigan” trilogy from best-selling author Chelsea Cain and if this is how we start, well then I’m just giddy with anticipation for books 2 and 3.

Kathleen Lannigan (aka Beth, aka Kick) was only six years old when she was kidnapped by Mel and Linda and used as the star in the “Beth movies,” touted as the most successful series of child pornography films on the net. Five years later (where the book starts), Beth only has memories of her beloved dog Monster to serve as the key to her true identity when the FBI rescues her, making her a news sensation and cash cow for her media hungry mother. Now 21 and going by the name Kick, she lives on her own terms and refuses to be a victim ever again, training herself to pick locks, shoot guns, do martial arts, and so much more.

Haunted by her past and obsessing over two recent cases of local missing children, Kick has a disturbing visit from John Bishop, a mysterious former weapons dealer intent on recruiting her to help in trying to bring the children safely home. Suspicious of his motivations and coping with some initial friction between the two (they mix like oil and water), Kick nonetheless agrees to help, driven by her own dark memories and sense of guilt. Relying on Bishop’s unprecedented access to information not even available to law enforcement and seemingly unlimited personal wealth, Kick starts to dig for the truth, soon uncovering one or two skeletons in Bishop’s own closet, and as they come ever closer to the truth and rescuing the missing children, Kick will find that all roads lead back to her own troubled past and mind.

One Kick was easily one of the best action thrillers I’ve read in a very long time. It is a book you will not want to put down once you start. While it’s a thriller in the truest sense of the word with barely a chance to catch your breath throughout each riveting page, it also offers a great story and most importantly an unforgettable protagonist. One Kick is filled with twists, turns and some startling revelations which perfectly lay the groundwork for what will undoubtedly make this both a best-selling series and Hollywood movie.

It goes without saying that the key to a successful series based on one central character is of course to have a fully developed, real and believable character with whom readers can both relate and sympathize; in this regard, Cain has a sure-fire hit in Kick Lannigan. Kick is genuine, real and basically a kick-ass heroine. While scarred by the horrors of her childhood, she is not broken and refuses to be defined by her experiences. I wish I could have one-tenth of her resilient courage, grit and determination, and though some readers might questions some of her character’s decisions, personally I thought they felt true to Kick and the experiences that shaped her. Bishop was as expected a heady mix of sexy, dangerous, and mysterious but I also found him uncomfortably unethical and sketchy at times, which is why I’m going to reserve final judgment on him for later in the series.

I will offer kudos to Ms. Cain on her tactful handling of such a dark and sensitive subject as pedophilia, pornography and child trafficking. There were passages that were difficult to read just because of the subject matter, but honestly Cain never offered lurid or sordid details for sensational purposes so the story never felt exploitative. Even with Kick, though parts of the narrative offer flashbacks to her (Beth’s) time with Mel, the reader is thankfully never made privy to the exact nature of the abuse.

One Kick is a definite must read if you’re looking for a book that offers a helluva of a plot, plenty action and at times heart-wrenching emotion. It is a tale of revenge and redemption with a few Glocks, throwing stars, and nunchucks thrown in for good measure.