An Owen McKenna Mystery by Todd Borg
Review: Former San Francisco detective turned private investigator Owen McKenna investigates the kidnapping of an autistic young girl in Tahoe Silence, the fifth mystery in this series by Todd Borg, set on the Nevada side of Lake Tahoe.
SalAnne Ramirez, a 17-year-old girl diagnosed with autism and nicknamed Silence since she's never spoken a word in her life, and her younger brother Charlie are outside their home when they are suddenly kidnapped, the only clue being that the roar of a motorcycle was heard at the same time they were taken. Fearing the police won't take their disappearance seriously, their mother hires McKenna to find them. Though the leader of a motorcycle gang seems to be the most likely suspect, McKenna begins his investigation by assuming she was not taken at random, but for some specific purpose. When her brother Charlie is found murdered, McKenna's forced to rethink his position, that maybe the gang is responsible and as a result he starts down a path that puts his own life in danger.
When speaking to someone about Silence's autism, McKenna is asked how her condition figures into the kidnapping. He replies, "I don't know. But because her autism is such a prominent facet of her personality, the better I understand autism, the better I will understand how she will respond to her current situation, how she will react if we can make a rescue attempt. It may even suggest why she was targeted in the first place." That statement summarizes both the strong and weak points of Tahoe Silence. On the positive side, the author recognizes that autism is likely to be a little understood disorder by readers of his book and thus makes an effort to educate them on what autism is and how it is diagnosed. But Borg seems too eager to show off the considerable research he has put into the subject. A more tightly edited version of the book would have eliminated a large number of extraneous pages without compromising how autism factors into McKenna's investigation and without any loss of continuity in the plot.
Borg cleverly uses an Aztec ritual that is performed on the night of a full moon as a way of introducing a time element into the story. At several points, McKenna notes the number of days until the full moon which effectively generates and maintains a sense of urgency in locating Silence. And as is typical of books in this series, Spot, McKenna's Harlequin Great Dane, plays an important role.
Far too much incidental information and the oddly incongruous happily-ever-after epilogue prevent Tahoe Silence from being the best in this series, but it is very good nonetheless.
Acknowledgment: Thriller Press provided a copy of Tahoe Silence for this review.
Review Copyright © 2007 — Hidden Staircase Mystery Books — All Rights Reserved
Selected reviews of other mysteries by this author …
Tahoe Ice Grave
Thriller Press (Trade Paperback), August 2002
ISBN-13: 9781931296137; ISBN-10: 1931296138
Location(s) referenced in Tahoe Silence: Lake Tahoe, Nevada
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Tahoe Silence by Todd Borg — An Owen McKenna Mystery
Publisher: Thriller Press
Format: Trade Paperback
Publication Date: August 2007
List Price: $16.95