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Someone Saw Something by Rick Mofina - Review

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Rick Mofina


Someone Saw Something Cover

Almost every cop show on TV today traces its lineage to the successful Law and Order franchise. That series combined “ripped from the headlines” stories with lean, tightly constructed plots and no-nonsense main characters. At first glance, Rick Mofina’s new novel, Someone Saw Something, appears to be the outline for an episode of Law and Order: SVU. It grabs readers’ attention immediately with a story of a missing, probably kidnapped six-year-old boy. But as the story progresses, the author throws in more red herrings, plot twists, and hard-to-keep-track of minor characters so that readers lose track of the ticking-clock suspense of the original premise. Fortunately, the author recovers at the end with a taut, exciting finale.

The main character in Someone Saw Something is Corina Corado, a highly successful senior correspondent at a major fictional news network. (I won’t drop real names, but readers can guess the real-life counterparts of the 

two networks in this book). Corina’s son Gabriel disappears without a trace one day while walking home from school with his 16-year-old sister. Charlotte. While the two were in Central Park, Charlotte looked away from her brother for a minute while texting her boyfriend. When she looked up, Gabriel was gone, leaving behind the rubber band model plane he had been trying to fly. Police soon suspect the boy’s disappearance may not have been a random snatching. Corina made a lot of enemies with her reporting, exposing frauds and conspiracy theorists and earning her the nickname “Queen of Lies” from their followers. One man had even shown up at her studio with a gun two years earlier. To further complicate matters, Gabriel was adopted privately. A sensationalist program host on a rival network takes advantage of Corina’s tragedy to promote his theory that she may have faked the kidnapping as a publicity stunt.

Author Rick Mofina tries to juggle two major themes in Someone Saw Something with varying success. The kidnapped child storyline is familiar to thriller fans, and the author handles it well. The police detectives on the case are competent, and the lead detective lost her child to cancer a few years earlier, so she empathizes with Corina. Police and civilian volunteers scour Central Park and uncover no sign of Gabriel or clues to his disappearance. The case becomes a mystery as to how Gabriel disappeared from the country’s most heavily traveled urban park without a trace, as well as who was responsible. The author reveals the answers slowly, with several false turns and detours. However, he plays fair with readers, revealing all the clues his audience will need to solve the mystery.

The nature of those detours is one of my sources of frustration with the book. Without revealing too much of the story, some of these detours involve independent subplots that complicate the ultimate solution of the case. Any one of these subplots would be implausible, even in this type of thriller. Put them together, and they strain credibility too much. At most, the author should have settled on one subplot for a tighter book. It’s only in the last quarter of the novel, after the author has resolved the subplots, that the book regains its footing. These last few chapters provide readers with the usual cat-and-mouse suspense they expect in stories of this nature. The author is a master of this sort of suspense and delivers her.

However, the author views Someone Saw Something as more than a suspense thriller. He raises the question of how a news organization covers a major story when one of its own is at the center of the story. Yellow journalism in the 21st century plays a part, with the rival news host a convenient villain. The author raises several questions but doesn’t produce many answers. Focusing more on the newsroom instead of some of the other subplots would have helped the book. It would also help readers figure out who all the staff are. Corina is the usual concerned parent in this type of book. But unlike most parents of kidnap victims, she has the resources of a major news organization behind her. They provide her with tips and transportation as needed. But they mainly provide readers with a confusing array of names that left me trying to figure out who was who. At one point, her network arranges a flight for Corina and some of her crew. The author notes: “They had only gone a few yards when Nora said, ‘Pull over.’ Ellie and Reggie collected gear and got out.” Instead of wondering what would happen to Corina here, I was trying to remember who Nora, Ellie, and Reggie were.

Despite the book’s flaws, I enjoyed Someone Saw Something enough to recommend it. It’s not Rick Mofina’s best work, but it has the makings of a solid cinematic thriller. The central character, Corina Corado, and her daughter, Charlotte, are well-developed as the story proceeds. Charlotte, in particular, displays the usual mix of emotions and judgment lapses you would expect of a 16-year-old in a very stressful situation. And I got a kick whenever I heard the imaginative slur, “Queen of Lies,” used to describe Corina. I’m just waiting until I can apply it to some real-life newscaster. Someone Saw Something is something for thriller fans to see… and read.   

NOTE: The publisher graciously provided me with a copy of this book through NetGalley. However, the decision to review the book and the contents of this review are entirely my own.

Author Rick Mofina appears on the "Authors on the Air" podcast to discuss Someone Saw Something:

Rick Mofina is a former journalist and an award-winning author of several acclaimed thrillers. His reporting has put him face-to-face with murderers on death row in Montana and Texas. He has covered a horrific serial-killing case in California and an armored car-heist in Las Vegas, flown over Los Angeles with the LAPD Air Support Division and gone on patrol with the Royal Canadian Mounted Police near the Arctic. He has reported from the Caribbean, Africa and Kuwait's border with Iraq. His true-crime articles have appeared in the New York Times, Marie Claire, Reader's Digest and Penthouse.

The International Thriller Writers, the Private Eye Writers of America, and the Crime Writers of Canada have listed his titles among the best in crime fiction. As a two-time winner of the Arthur Ellis Award, Canada's top literary award for crime fiction, a four-time International Thriller Award finalist, and a two-time Shamus Award finalist, the Library Journal calls Mofina, "One of the best thriller writers in the business."

Buy Rick Mofina's books on Amazon:

Her Last Goodbye Cover
Everything She Feared Cover
Into the Fire Cover

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