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City of the Sun    by David Levien order for
City of the Sun
by David Levien
Order:  USA  Can
Doubleday, 2008 (2008)
Hardcover, e-Book

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* * *   Reviewed by Hilary Williamson

City of the Sun, set in Indianapolis and Mexico, tells the heartrending story of the abduction of twelve-year-old Jamie Gabriel on his early morning newspaper route. Readers see the resultant drifting apart of his parents, Paul and Carol, and their desperate attempts to find out what happened to their only child. David Levien, who cowrote screenplays for Ocean's 13 and other major films, makes the horror and tragedy almost too real for his readers to bear.

Fourteen months after the abduction, the grieving parents learn that the police have essentially shelved the case. They hire large private detective Frank Behr, who was once a decorated cop and is haunted by his own ghosts. Having lost his son - along with his marriage and career - years before, Behr is reluctant to revive his own bad memories by taking on the case. But he finally agrees to follow the 'Ice-age cold' trail, though he warns the Gabriels that they might not like what he finds, warning them that after so long hope is dangerous. His meticulous investigation sniffs out faint trails - the spot on Jamie's paper route where his delivery was interrupted; a jogger who saw the car; and what happened to Jamie's bike.

Despite his misgivings, Frank agrees to Paul Gabriel's working with him on the case - and their partnership is surprisingly effective. There are deaths and they uncover a child trafficking ring that ships its victims to Ciudad del Sol. Father and PI head there too, determined to at least find Jamie's grave. In a subplot, Frank begins a new and promising relationship with an attractive woman from the local newspaper's circulation department. He and Paul take huge risks that - after a crescendo of violence - offer redemption for both these spiritually wounded men. At the end, Levien dedicates his story 'For the missing and those who wait for them'. City of the Sun is a thrilling, terrifying - and ultimately very satisfying - read, not to be missed.

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