Wednesday, January 25, 2012

HELPLESS by Daniel Palmer

There's no time like January for a good beach read.  The writing is fair, but the plot is a winner.  This was one of those books that I looked forward to resuming every night.  Tom Hawkins is a girls' soccer coach whose daughter Jill is the star player, but her mother has so poisoned Jill's opinion of Tom that the extent of most of her text messages is "Green," meaning that all is well.  Now that Jill's mother/Tom's ex-wife has died under mysterious circumstances, Tom hopes for some sort of reconciliation with Jill.  However, due to a plethora of incriminating evidence, Tom has come under suspicion of trafficking in child pornography and of having sexual relations with Jill's best friend Lindsey.  This dark cloud threatens the progress of Tom and Jill's bonding but also costs him his job and reputation.  Obviously, Tom will eventually be exonerated, but I was still curious how everything would unravel.  Tom's sadistic army buddy's wife, Adriana, bails Tom out of jail, leaving me thirsty to find out what motive lurks under her sugary sweet exterior.  There's also a burgeoning attraction between our former Navy Seal hero and a female FBI agent who tries, somewhat unsuccessfully, to subdue her secret hope that Tom will somehow turn out to be innocent.  The fact that this book is hitting the market in the wake of the Penn State child abuse scandal is no doubt coincidental, but it's certainly fortuitous.  In Tom's case, there are no eyewitness accounts—just a lot of technological shenanigans and an over-zealous cop with an axe to grind.

1 comment:

UK said...

Before reading HELPLESS I also had no idea that the FBI’s Innocent Images Initiative even existed, never mind what it does. It’s very real—I’ve been lucky enough to work with Daniel and have had the opportunity to speak with folks at the FBI—and their work is accurately described in the story, but more importantly to readers, the subplot Palmer creates around this aspect of the story adds layers to HELPLESS that make it immeasurably richer. Palmer also captures both the trepidation and bravado of kids today. We all remember worrying that someone won’t like us. The world might have changed, but that has not. But today, bullying has so many more forms than it did way back when. I also found Tom’s relationship with Jill fascinating. For much of the story, Tom seems afraid of his daughter, constantly asking her rather than telling her. Very different from my relationship way back when with my single dad. HELPLESS has already gotten a bunch of rave reviews, and each is well deserved.