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Stolen Things: A Novel by R. H. Herron

Stolen Things: A Novel

by R. H. Herron

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255648,399 (3.57)1
A sensational crime, a missing teen, and a mother and daughter withno one to trust but each other come together in this debut thriller by R.H. Herron.



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Stolen Things by R. H. Herron is a so-so debut conspiracy thriller.

Ex-cop Laurie Ahmadi is currently a 911 dispatcher in San Bernal, California, who is working when her sixteen-year-old daughter Jojo calls her. Jojo doesn't know where she is at, but she is obviously drugged, disoriented and in pain. Laurie tracks her through her phone and dispatches help immediately. Then both Laurie and her husband, Omid, the police chief, rush to the scene. Jojo is at the home of pro football player Kevin Leeds. Leeds is an activist with the Citizens Against Police Brutality movement. He is arrested, but has no idea why Jojo would be in his home or why there is a body in his closet.

Jojo has been sexually assaulted and drugged. She also has no idea where her best friend, Harper, is. The two were together the night before. Now Jojo is recovering from something she doesn't remember, Harper is missing, and Laurie must use all her wits to try and figure out what happened after Omid has a heart attack at the hospital. When Harper's phone is found in Jojo's possession, they look into her messages and also look at her social media accounts to try and figure out who she has been associating with and where she could possibly be. It soon becomes clear that they can trust no one, including the police department that has long been like a family to them. With Omid recovering, Laurie must figure out what is happening on her own.

Laurie and Jojo are well-developed characters and Herron does a good job capturing the mother-daughter relationship. Jojo needs her mother and knows she will come, but she also get exasperated with her like any other teenager. She has also kept her renewed friendship with Harper, as well as other things, a secret. Both of her parents knew Harper wasn't a good influence on Jojo, but they would never wish her harm.

Herron uses present day headlines to frame the action in her novel and goes bold and all-encompassing in the narrative bringing into the plot police brutality, activism, racism, rape, murder, mental health, and LGBTQ rights. In the end no one is is what they seem to be. Everyone is hiding secrets. While Stolen Things is definitely a thriller, it does come with an overriding and overbearing social message with an agenda that veers into a lecturing tone. Pulling plot points from breaking headlines is great, but in this case it ended up distracting from an otherwise page-turning thriller. Sometimes you are better served picking and choosing what will best serve your plot.

Disclosure: My review copy was courtesy of Penguin Random House.
http://www.shetreadssoftly.com/2019/08/stolen-things.html ( )
  SheTreadsSoftly | Aug 18, 2019 |
What’s a kid to do when her father is the police chief and her mother is a 911 dispatcher for the same department? Really, so many of the cops in the station know JoJo and consider her to be a part of their cop family that she may just as well have grown up inside the police station. That means that whatever she gets into outside the home is quickly going to get back to her parents. But the time that JoJo and her best friend Harper were caught trying to steal from a jewelry store, they were only fourteen years old so they were able to put a bad situation behind them without ruining the rest their lives. Now, however, the girls are both 16, and the trouble they are flirting with is a whole lot more dangerous than stealing something from a jewelry store. The girls do not look like kids anymore, and the wrong kind of men have noticed.

JoJo’s mother has been a 911 operator for almost twenty years so not much surprises her anymore. But that changes on the day Laurie answers a 911-call only to recognize that the voice on the other end of the line pleading for help belongs to her own daughter. JoJo cannot move, does not know where she is, and has no idea how she got there. Even worse, JoJo cannot figure out what happened to her before or while she was unconscious, but the pain she is in indicates that she may have been raped. And then JoJo remembers that Harper was with her – but now Harper is nowhere to be found.

JoJo’s police family pulls out all the stops to figure out what happened to her and Harper and to catch the people responsible. And JoJo would expect nothing less of them. But do they really?

JoJo Ahmadi is as impatient as she is smart – and she’s very smart. So, when the cops don’t seem to be making much progress, she decides to do a little investigating of her own. And what she learns from a deep dive into Harper’s social media scares her to death. Harper, it appears, was a little too cozy with some of the cops for her own good, and now JoJo and her mother don’t know whom to trust. Which cops are playing it straight, and which ones have good reason to make sure that Harper is never found? Just what are they willing to do to keep JoJo and her mother from learning the truth?

R.H. Herron’s novel is a solid thriller that pushes all the proper socially-conscious buttons. There are gay characters, characters questioning their sexuality, racist cops, plain old bad cops, a black NFL quarterback speaking out about the way blacks are mistreated by the criminal justice system, and a group of protesters preparing to take to the streets again to protest police brutality (a group, as it turns out, that JoJo and Harper have themselves joined). Stolen Things is definitely a thriller with a social message, but that message at times can get heavy-handed enough to be a distraction to the book’s central plot. Still, this is a page-turner that crime thriller fans should take a look at.

Advance Readers Copy provided by Dutton for review purposes. ( )
  SamSattler | Jul 29, 2019 |
Police dispatcher Laurie Ahmadi lives a parent's worst nightmare when she answers a 911 call and hears her daughter asking for help. JoJo is sixteen, she's been sexually assaulted and drugged, when she awakens in the house of pro football player Kevin Leeds. Laurie rushes to the scene, sure that Kevin is the one who raped her daughter. But JoJo is equally sure that he did not.

Kevin and JoJo became friends while they were volunteering for CapB - Citizens Against Police Brutality. JoJo has kept this secret from her police dispatcher mother and police chief father who have both told her to stay away from CapB. JoJo is also keeping secret that she and former friend Harper Cunnigham have rekindled their friendship.

While the body of Kevin's friend Zachary Gordon is stashed in a closet just feet away from where JoJo was, Harper is missing. With a blank space in her memory where the past evening should be, JoJo doesn't know how they got to Kevin's and where Harper could be.

The stress of the evening has caused Omar Ahmadi to have a heart attack which leaves no one to help Laurie investigate to find Harper and find out what happened to JoJo. Her investigation leads to all sorts of secrets and corruption in their police department and Laurie, JoJo, and Kevin are on their own because they don't know who can be trusted in the police department. Even Omar isn't in the clear!

This was a pulse-pounding, fast-paced thriller with intriguingly human characters. I couldn't put it down! ( )
  kmartin802 | Jul 19, 2019 |
A 911 dispatcher gets a call on her shift and immediately recognizes the voice as her daughter Jojo. She doesn't know where she is, has no memory of how she got there, but feels groggy and in pain. After tracking her down along with her police chief husband, they discover her at the home of 22 year-old pro football player Kevin, a Colin Kaepernick-like figure in town and a friend of Jojo's.

What unfolds next is a series of twists and turns as mother and daughter desperately search for clues as to what happened to Jojo, where her friend Harper is, and what happened to the man in the next room. There are a lot of mistakes made, incorrect assumptions, and frankly idiotic decisions along the way to finding the truth.

It was an overall enjoyable book and it did seem like the author had a certain familiarity with law enforcement (which is later confirmed in the author's note at the end). However I did have a couple issues. First, a minor one, but the writing style... from chapter to chapter, it'd somewhat alternate perspectives between mom Laurie and daughter Jojo, except it would always be in the third person so the only thing that would change is how to the other person was referred to (i.e in Jojo's chapters, Laurie would be referred to as Mom). This felt like an unnecessary choice and I just found it a bit odd.

The other thing that slightly bothered me was the author admits at the end that she takes certain liberties with her characterization of the police force. I think she went too far. I don't want to say too much, but if you're a die-hard Blue Lives Matter person, you'll likely get frustrated with the extent and the degree to which she pushes the narrative in one direction. ( )
  jesmlet | Apr 23, 2019 |
This book has it all! Characters that feel real, action, diversity, thrills, chills, and more than one unexpected revelation.

The tale is told from the perspective of two characters, the mother and the daughter. The almost rebellious teenager has some things to hide and does her level best to hide them. When some of those things are forcefully found out by her parents, the real story begins. Her father is the Chief of Police in their small town and her mother is a dispatcher. They know their way around the law, but do they know enough to save their daughter from the forces surrounding her?

Twists and turns abound. Truth and lies are told. Action packed, well written, it makes you want to slow down and take it all in while at the same time racing to the end to see what happens! You will enjoy the ride!

Thank you to NetGalley and the publisher for providing my copy. ( )
  Bonnie.Franks | Apr 22, 2019 |
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