This site uses cookies to deliver our services, improve performance, for analytics, and (if not signed in) for advertising. By using LibraryThing you acknowledge that you have read and understand our Terms of Service and Privacy Policy. Your use of the site and services is subject to these policies and terms.
Hide this

Results from Google Books

Click on a thumbnail to go to Google Books.

Saving Sophie: A Novel by Richard H. Balson

Saving Sophie: A Novel

by Richard H. Balson

MembersReviewsPopularityAverage ratingConversations
959127,077 (3.78)None



Sign up for LibraryThing to find out whether you'll like this book.

No current Talk conversations about this book.

Showing 1-5 of 9 (next | show all)
Exciting, fast moving read about good against evil. Some folks have a legacy of hate handed down generation to generation. They don't want to see a changing world less amenable to violence. Their depravity thrives on causing pain and suffering to those perceived as enemies including family and friends.

This novel clearly relays the message that it is love and kindness which move the world in the right direction.

Enjoyable read but I know that only small parts of this novel will remain memorable to me going forward. ( )
  Bookish59 | Nov 25, 2017 |
I really enjoyed this story. I could not put it down. I have read a couple of books by this author and will continue to read his work. Highly recommend. ( )
  Thelmajean | Sep 11, 2017 |
Saving Sophie, Ronald H. Balson, author; Fred Berman, narrator
Because the story goes off in many directions that are all married at the end, but are quite confusing in the beginning, a brief explanation and introduction of the characters is helpful in the interest of organization. In addition, the Middle East history that is presented is largely accurate, but the characters involved in the investigation are not, so hopefully the reader will be inspired to learn more about the Middle East and not jump to conclusions about either side because of the novel.

Although the book begins as a mystery that seems to simply involve an enormous sum of missing money, it soon veers off into the territory of fraud, embezzlement, sporting event score fixing, kidnapping, murder, Arab/Israeli relations, germ warfare, and terrorism. The Middle East conflict is a major part of the story, but it revolves around a scheme that was hatched by an unscrupulous combination of men from assorted backgrounds. It stretched credibility, at times.

A brief summary of some of the characters follows:
1-Jack Sommers is a man of the Jewish faith. He works as an attorney with the firm of Jenkins and Fairchild, Attorneys at Law. He was one of three men in charge of a business deal that has gone awry between a man named Victor Kelsen and his law firm. Jack’s wife recently died. To add to his loss, his daughter was kidnapped shortly after, in an unrelated incident. Now, Sommers has suddenly disappeared.
2-Denny Harrington is the CFO of Kelsen Manufacturing. He worked on the Kelsen deal with Sommers. Harrington is missing, as well.
3-Jim Ellis, of the Midwestern Title Company that was selected to close the Kelsen deal, was killed when hit by a car. All of the major players responsible for sealing the deal seem to have disappeared from the scene, in one way or another.
4-Victor Kelsen is an unscrupulous man of questionable reputation who, among other things, secretly fixes sporting events. He had sold his company, Kelsen Manufacturing to Leland Industries for 300 million dollars and had engaged the firm of Jenkins and Fairchild to oversee the transaction and see to the payment of his outstanding debts so that Kelsen could get the remaining money. However, only one payment to First Bank had so far been released. Another 88 million dollars that was expected to be paid to the Exchange Bank was no longer in escrow and had gone missing. Where did the money go? Kelsen could not receive the final 96 million dollars due to him until both loans had been paid.
5-Liam Taggart is a private investigator. He was engaged to find the missing money. His role in solving the mystery expands exponentially as the novel progresses and he travels to the Middle East involved in both espionage and intrigue!
6-Catherine Lockhart is Liam’s long time girlfriend. An attorney, she had previously been terminated by the firm of Jenkins and Fairchild, but has since been rehired by Walter Jenkins to help prove that the firm is not guilty, regarding the missing money, and therefore not liable for its repayment.
7-Sharon Wilson is the sister of Jack Sommers. She claims to know nothing about his disappearance although he is using the identity of her deceased husband, Eugene Wilson. She becomes a conduit.
8-Alina al-Zahani was the wife of Jack Sommers. A Muslim and a Palestinian, she defied her father to marry Sommers. Her father did not forgive her. She dies of a mysterious illness.
9-Sophie Sommers, age six, is the daughter of Jack and Alina. She was kidnapped by her grandparents, Arif and Lubannah, and brought to their home in Hebron, in the Palestinian Territory. Hebron is a very dangerous city with a violent history.
10-Jamila is Sophie’s friend in Hebron, but for only a short while. She is soon forbidden to play with her when her father discovers that Sophie is part Jew and also an American. He does not want his daughter either exposed to American ideas or corrupted by a Jewess.
11-Dr. Arif al-Zahani, Alina’s father, comes from a long line of anti-Israel instigators. The Israelis suspect him of being a terrorist in an organization called the Sons of Canaan. He is extremely pompous and arrogant.
12-Lubannah al-Zahani is an obedient wife who loves her husband. She is often reminded by him to know her place and behave properly. She will not defy him, although she may threaten to do so. Her culture provides her with few civil rights or power. She loves Sophie, her granddaughter, and does not want to return her to her father, Jack Sommers. Her husband has hidden many things from her which will cause her great pain when they are revealed.
13-Bashir works for Dr. al-Zahani. He loved Alani and now adores her child, Sophie. He does whatever he is asked to do by Dr. al-Zahani. He is both bodyguard and caretaker. He takes care of Sophie’s needs, walking her to school and talking to her teachers. He entertains her and shows her affection. When he discovers that al-Zahani has kept horrific secrets from him, he is forced to make a difficult choice.
14-Marcy Grant had been a close friend of both Alina and Jack and is still a friend of Jack’s and a devotee of Sophie. When Jack is injured, she is his advocate.
15-Abu Hammad is a kindly shop owner in the Muslim Quarter who assists Liam in his investigation. Dr. al-Zahani dislikes Abu because he believes he is a coward because he never joined him in his anti-Israel cause.
16-Kayla Cummings is a member of an Israeli Anti-Terrorism force. She told Liam about Abu Hammad, Dr. Arif al-Zahani and the Sons of Canaan. The Sons of Canaan is a small group of agitators against Israel, of which Zahani is a member. She is trying to stop what she believes will be a massive terrorist attack, with many casualties, that is being secretly planned by this little known group.
17-Darius McCord is a teenaged basketball player involved in sporting events that Kelsen and his Russian mobster friends have fixed. He is the catalyst that connects some of the dots.
18-Dmitri is a Russian mobster who fixed the sporting events with Kelsen.
19-Evgeniy is a thug who works for Dmitri.
20-Yuri is another Russian mobster who was hired by Dmitri.
21-Dani is the young boy sacrificed, against his will, to serve Allah. The Sons of Canaan used him as a final subject in the interest of the experiments that Dr. al-Zahani conducted in his secret lab.
22-Shin Bet, Mossad, and the IDF are Israeli Security agencies.
23-CIA and the State Department are American security agencies.
There are other minor characters, but these are the ones that I felt had an impact or a message to impart that was unique to the novel.

The novel is infused with subtle entries of political correctness regarding sexual preference, employment, gender, serving one’s country, religion, civil rights and romance. Some of the dialogue seems trite and inappropriate, at times, especially the scenes with Sommers talking to his dead wife, but that might be due to the reader’s portrayal of the moment. I thought the novel might have been better had there not been silly romantic scenes which served only to distract me from the main plot which occasionally seemed contrived and very convoluted. I believe that a novel which covers Arab/Israeli/Jewish/American relations should not be trivialized with silly romances. Still, it was a good mystery with a fast and steady pace. The mastermind of the crime committed never expected it to have so many unexpected consequences. All of the loose ends in the story are knitted together in an ending which may or may not be very credible to the reader, so suspend disbelief and simply enjoy how the investigation plays out. To write any more would give away the story, but this information should at least suffice to keep all of the facts of the story straight as you read.
I thought the narrator over-emoted sometimes, making himself a part of the story instead of creating the character. As a result, although I had both an audio and a print copy, I abandoned the audio in favor of the print copy. ( )
  thewanderingjew | Jul 10, 2016 |
This book will be interesting for those who hear repeated “keywords” on the morning news as background noise while going to work and don’t really know what is going on. Perhaps they cannot find the West Bank or Gaza on any map; they would like to but haven’t discovered a painless or entertaining way to do so. This book fills the bill as historical fiction with a heavy influence on the historical. The fiction is clearly identified by the author in endnotes. As with any emotional, currently controversial, in-the-news issue, hardcore ideologues will disagree with some points calling them “alleged facts”, but that is what reader-response criticism is all about.

I gave the book only three stars because while I liked the history part a lot (more than four stars) I found the narrative setting, the way the story was told, boring to unrealistic. Financial crime combined with basketball score fixing, combined with criminal mafia activity seemed to struggle in stretching to encompass (by the way) a kidnapping. The kidnapping was to be the central driver for the book. Along with historical animosities. There are many conflicts throughout the book; to describe their resolutions would be to write spoilers.

Jack lost a wife due to terrible disease. He promised her he would take care of daughter Sophie, but Sophie was kidnapped by extremist/potential terrorist Father-in-law. Even Dr. Father-in-law could not explain the invisible hand help he had in accomplishing the kidnapping. Jack, up to the time of the kidnapping, was a morally perfect person. The financial crime was understandable to support rescue efforts and return Sophie to Jack. The story proceeds in a fairly predictable way, but the writing is good except for the points where Jack retreats (repeatedly) into his mind to reflect on why bad things happen to innocent people (himself). He also spends a great amount of time rationalizing immoral, or at least unethical, methods to achieve moral, justifiable ends. These internal musings and flashbacks are a bit annoying and can happen under any circumstance, such as when he is receiving background (historical) information from a beautiful, rogue spy he has met. This is the unrealistic part.

Spies are human too. They exhibit human behavior both bad and good but perhaps at more clearly defined extremes. Kayla, the possible rogue spy, is quite willing to sacrifice Sophie to achieve her own ends. OK, that is realistic. Close to the end of the book (not a spoiler) Liam makes a statement (paraphrase) [there are more people like Kayla…] to which Jack replies “Racism will never win out. It’s flawed in every sense because love is much stronger than hate.” Meanwhile Kayla, rogue agent who was willing to kill Sophie but at the same time was thinking about sleeping with Jack, “smiles proudly” as she hears Jack’s affirmation of his moral base. I found these to be syrupy sweet conclusive statements that did not fit with the potential outcomes that made up an otherwise interesting story.

Despite my negative impression of several parts of the book, the historical part was so good I would read the book again and recommend it to those with minimal knowledge of this ongoing conflict.

( )
  ajarn7086 | Jan 23, 2016 |
I received a copy from First Reads in return for an honest review.

I wasn't sure what to expect regarding Saving Sophie. I wanted to read something by Balson after hearing great things about his his first book, and so I didn't pay much attention to the synopsis of this book when I entered the giveaway. Once I saw it was a political/legal thriller, I was hesitant as I do not like politics in my fiction.

However, Balson delivers a riveting, exciting tale weaving in multiple characters and plot lines. His research and passion for these subjects are clearly seen. He presents political and religious background on the unrest in Israel and the Middle East in a way that captivates and flows. If he had written my history textbooks when I was in school, I would have actually read them.

For the most part, I loved all of the characters. I didn't realize that Liam and Cat were a part of his first novel, but I don't think not having read that detracts much from their relationship here. Sommers is the epitome of loving, grieving father, willing to do whatever it takes to get his daughter back. It is essentially his story being told here, his quest to get his kidnapped daughter back from her maternal grandparents who fled with her to Palestine. I thought Al-Zahani (Sophie's grandpa) was a wonderfully written character. I could feel his hatred, his anger, and his thirst for the eradication of Jews.

The only person I didn't like was Marcy. Overall, she annoyed me. She came across as pushy, whiny, and selfish. I did not like her relationship with Sommers at all. I think my dislike for her was more of a personal thing, but regardless, she rubbed me the wrong way.

Ultimately, Saving Sophie is a multifaceted thriller that explores family, political discord, and greed. ( )
  Kristymk18 | Jan 5, 2016 |
Showing 1-5 of 9 (next | show all)
no reviews | add a review
You must log in to edit Common Knowledge data.
For more help see the Common Knowledge help page.
Series (with order)
Canonical title
Original title
Alternative titles
Original publication date
Important places
Important events
Related movies
Awards and honors
First words
Last words
Disambiguation notice
Publisher's editors
Publisher series
Original language

References to this work on external resources.

Wikipedia in English


Book description
Haiku summary

No descriptions found.

"Jack Sommers was just an ordinary accountant from Chicago-that is, until his wife passed away, his young daughter was kidnapped, and he became the main suspect in an $88 million dollar embezzlement case. Now Jack is on the run, hoping to avoid the feds long enough to rescue his daughter, Sophie, from her maternal grandfather, a suspected terrorist in Palestine. With the help of investigative team Liam and Catherine, and a new CIA operative, a secret mission is launched to not only rescue Sophie but also to thwart a major terrorist attack in Hebron. But will being caught in the crossfires of the Palestine-Israeli conflict keep their team from accomplishing the task at hand, or can they overcome the odds and save countless lives, including their own?"--… (more)

» see all 2 descriptions

Quick Links

Popular covers


Average: (3.78)
3 8
3.5 7
4 10
5 5

Is this you?

Become a LibraryThing Author.


About | Contact | Privacy/Terms | Help/FAQs | Blog | Store | APIs | TinyCat | Legacy Libraries | Early Reviewers | Common Knowledge | 125,737,890 books! | Top bar: Always visible