My rating: 5 of 5 stars
Special agent Kimberley Quincy is five months pregnant, and struggling with the question of whether she can or should continue her work with the FBI. She doesn’t want to quit, but her husband feels she’s taking too many risks, and the conflict is placing quite a strain on their marriage. Into this stressful personal dilemma comes a teenage prostitute, asking for Kimberley’s help in discovering what has become of some of her friends who have disappeared. The narrative switches back and forth from the girl’s story to the heartbreaking and harrowing account of a boy who was abducted years ago to become the sex slave of his sadistic captor, a man who loves big, scary spiders and has even taken on their predatory identity. Chillingly, he forces his victim to choose his next victim. Eventually Kimberly comes to realize that she herself has been ensnared in the spider man’s lethal web.
These multiple plot lines converge very gradually, sometimes causing confusion which is eventually resolved. Grisly in parts, and suspenseful and menacing throughout, this is not a book for the squeamish, but Gardner tells it well, and the denouement, with a few unforeseen outcomes, makes it more than worthwhile to tolerate the discomfort. The book is particularly effective in demonstrating how easily the social media are utilized by those who hunt for easy targets to abuse. Timely, disturbing, and sadly, all too true.