3 out of 4 stars
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Two years ago, Billy Shears broke into Chris and Michelle Michaels’ home and kidnapped their niece, Cora, who had been playing with their daughter, Audrey. Richard Urbanax was assigned to the case because he was an excellent hostage negotiator and probably the best detective in the New Orleans Police Department. However, before Richard even got to the Michaels’ home, Billy Shears, while speeding, had an accident that killed both Cora and himself. Richard was convinced Billy had a partner; however, after not finding proof of it, he was ordered to close the case. Refusing to give up, Richard quit his job to pursue the case on his own, determined to bring the other kidnapper to justice. Now, two years later, Chris Michaels’ wife, Michelle, and their daughter have just been abducted. Chris and Russell (Chris’s brother and Cora’s father) insist the police let Richard help them find their family.
Richard has the assistance of three other people with his investigation—his children. His 15-year-old twin sons, Reid and Eric, are geniuses with advanced degrees. Their passion is developing high-tech devices. These devices are much more sophisticated than what is available to law enforcement but are not always legal. Hilly is Richard’s 18-year-old daughter; although not as intelligent as the twins, she is still extremely smart, earning her Bachelor of Criminology Degree at 17 and currently working toward her master’s degree. They want to start their own private investigator business with their father once he has solved Cora’s case. Will they be capable of rescuing Michelle and Audrey before the kidnapper’s deadline?
Lightning Strikes Twice: From the Urbanax Files is an intriguing 275-page crime drama by Ric Frances. This is the first book in this series and showcases the author’s gift of a vivid imagination, which is shown by the sophisticated gadgets the twins invent. His creativity represented my favorite aspect of the book. His prose is descriptive and easy to understand.
I also appreciate it is a family-friendly novel. There are quite a few stories available about private investigators solving crimes, but it is unusual for a story to have no profanity or sex and have a father and his children as the protagonists. It was an interesting and unique spin on routine crime dramas.
Richard had Hilly profile each of the suspects for practice for their private investigator business. Although this may cause mature readers to feel like it drags at times, it provides additional information and is especially useful for younger readers.
My least favorite part of the story is that not all the questions were answered by the end. Since this is the first in the series, at least one thread would likely be continued in the upcoming book. I don’t have a problem with that. However, when the crime was solved at the end of the novel, I went back and reread part of the book to make more sense out of it. If the actual kidnapping was described in more detail at the end of the story, it would clarify things. Plus, someone was drugged in the novel, and how that fits in was never explained. This surprised me as the author was excellent about explaining most of the book very carefully and, in fact, sometimes repeated information.
One other thing was confusing to me. The Urbanaxes lived in a huge three-story house; the basement was where the twins invented their expensive, high-tech gadgets. They even had an illegal private satellite. Richard worked as a detective, and that job wouldn’t make him rich. After leaving that job, he worked without pay to expose Cora’s kidnapper. Where was all the money coming from to pay for this house, fund these inventions, and raise three kids?
Because there were very few errors in the book, I feel it was professionally edited. Therefore, as this is an imaginative and intriguing crime drama, it achieves a rating of three out of four stars. One star is removed because of the unanswered questions. I believe readers in the YA age group, especially if they love high-tech gadgets, would appreciate this mystery the most; however, more mature adults may also enjoy it.
Lightning Strikes Twice
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