Taken by Kathleen George


byKathleen George

Paperback | June 25, 2002

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The child was taken in broad daylight, on a warm June morning, in a crowded shopping area in downtown Pittsburgh.

Marina Benedict first saw the baby with his mother. Then, just minutes later, she saw him again, in the arms of a man she was certain was not the child’s father. In a single life-altering act, Marina followed them. What happens next will plunge her into a mystery that is both heartbreaking and chilling. Within hours of the abduction, the city is galvanized by the story: a child, the son of a pitcher for the Pirates, is missing. And soon a community begins to unravel...Detective Richard Christie struggles with his own demons as he tries to solve a baffling mystery. And Marina Benedict, pulled from the safety of her ordinary life by a brutal crime, is at the center of the story. Because once, Marina tried to save a life and it changed her forever. Now she will risk her life again--for a child who is still out there somewhere, still in need of saving.
Kathleen George, a director and theater professor at the University of Pittsburgh, is also the author of The Man in the Buick, a collection of stories. Her fiction has appeared in many publications, including North American Review and Mademoiselle. Taken is her first novel.
Title:TakenFormat:PaperbackProduct dimensions:368 pages, 8.5 X 5.5 X 0.88 inShipping dimensions:368 pages, 8.5 X 5.5 X 0.88 inPublished:June 25, 2002Publisher:Random House Publishing GroupLanguage:English

The following ISBNs are associated with this title:

ISBN - 10:0385335474

ISBN - 13:9780385335478

Appropriate for ages: All ages

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Read from the Book

Chapter 1If Richard Christie had seen her standing on Sixth, if he''d been driving his dusty blue unmarked Taurus, headed for a crime scene on the hazy, humid morning of June 26, would he have noticed her? Or would she, if she''d stopped, turned, looked outward into the rows and rows of cars, looked through dirty or rolled-down windows, into faces, have seen him? He thinks, later, he would have. She, well, she wasn''t looking outward, she knows that, hadn''t been for a while.If he had noticed her, he would have felt an automatic nudge of lust. And why? The hair, partly, she had long hair, which he liked. Abundant. Very large eyes, a dark gray-green he would call them, and not at all serene; unusual bone structure about the cheeks and mouth; a thin face with determined curved lines under the eyes. Most people would have described her hair as black, but as a policeman, he knew it was actually a dark brown. She had a look of summer, islands. Put her in a sarong, have her sell suntan lotion. That kind of thing.Still. If he''d seen her then, he would have seen sadness in her and understood she was one of what nearly all of us are in his opinion--motherless children.She, she blamed herself for not looking outward. A narcissistic blot, she had it. A constant soul-searching. She didn''t think much about how she looked, although most people would have been surprised to hear that, since she dressed and walked with what passed for self-awareness, even self-love.If she''d looked outward toward Christie, she would not have noticed him. Even closer up--if he''d popped on his blinkers, hopped out of the car, if someone had introduced them--she would have dismissed him. A detective, essentially a cop. A thickheaded flatfoot. Light-years away. Maybe even a Republican. Not somebody she could know or want to know.She stood on Sixth with Michael. he held his briefcase stiffly. People walked around them. "I have to go, Marina," he said. "I''m supposed to be there by ten-fifteen.""It''s okay.""I''d drive you, but it would make me late.""I know."He offered a new suggestion, dropping each word reluctantly. "You could take me and then pick me up. Then you''d have the car."There was tightness around his eyes as if he fought a glare. She felt badly for him, wished she could embrace him, but that was the point, she couldn''t, hadn''t been able to get in for a long time now. The tense muscles of his face worked hard as he tried to stay calm.There was a moment, before he turned and strode off, in which she might have undone everything--taken back what she''d just said upstairs in Dr. Caldwell''s office. And she almost did, out of agony for the look on his face. But something stopped her words. The way he tightened his lips, maybe, the reminder of recent cruelties. From that point on, many things were decided.Dr. Caldwell had asked her, "And do you still feel you ought to leave, be on your own?" The homework assignment had been to think this through, or more accurately, feel it through, Marina having lost her ability to act for herself instead of for Michael. "You keep saying what he wants," Dr. Caldwell had pointed out. This morning Marina caught Dr. Caldwell''s almost imperceptible nod when she said she''d decided a separation might be better for both of them. "I think we''re hurting each other too much." Him on the love seat, her on the matching sofa, the doctor in the high-backed chair, all of them on their sandy-colored islands. Again that nod. Or her imagination.Michael made an exhalation of pretend affront, surprise.Dr. Caldwell turned to Michael. "It''s been going on for a long time," she reminded him."Whatever she wants. I don''t care." He sank back with an arm around the shoulder of the sofa and looked toward his own crossed legs, unable to make eye contact.Dr. Caldwell looked hard at him, but he didn''t look up. "You don''t care?" she asked finally."No. I''ve had it.""What?"He looked up. "Failure. I can''t take any more failure.""Separation--I know I''ve said this--has rules. You have to make them and keep to them. Decide exactly what you want out of it. You told me your wishes, your needs, didn''t you, last week?" Here she turned to Marina.Marina said, "It''s hard to remember. Change. Peace. Peace is what I want.""You told me last week, ''Self-knowledge. A chance to figure out what I feel.'' " Dr. Caldwell seemed to be reading from her yellow legal pad. The room was a court, of sorts, judge, plaintiff, and accused.Marina was exhausted with trying.Dr. Caldwell had looked downward at her tablet and honored the seriousness of this about-to-happen parting with a long silence. For a long time, nobody said anything."I''m so sad," Marina said finally. "And yet it still feels the right thing to do."Even the way Michael bristled, the little bit he moved, as soon as she showed the soft underbelly of her sadness, spoke of the violence in him. Marina''s breath caught. If she needed a warning not to go soft now, this was it. He had not struck her except for that once. But the books, papers, dishes, he had thrown, broken. He had been on the verge of striking her a million times. The threat of it was almost worse, given her family history, than if he''d hit her.Dr. Caldwell by now knew all about Marina''s family history--a violent father who''d struck her mother repeatedly, her sister as well, and Marina sometimes, too, or began to, but somehow left off, mysteriously collapsed into himself. As a child of ten, Marina had yelled at her father, "Don''t you ever hit my mother again!" And her father had stopped moving forward--chaos all around them, the table turned over, the pie makings on the floor. Her mother whimpering in a corner. After that, he waited till Marina was at school to go crazy. He was clearly afraid of her, a child. Twice she called the police about him. Dr. Caldwell puzzled over these stories, saying she thought there was something unusual, forceful in Marina even when there didn''t seem to be.And the blame, a few years later, on Marina for his illness and death. Can you kill someone with a look, with accusations? Her mother and sister seemed to imply she had.She was afraid to look at Michael, today, upstairs . . .did not want to hurt him . . . did not want to hurt herself, either . . . could not understand how this was her drama, to be enacted over and over, being faced with violence and seeking to stop it. Why? Are people born into certain patterns?She''d said, riding down the elevator, "I''ll take the bus home. I don''t mind."He did not say, "Is it real, then? Are you leaving?"She did not say, "I meant it, I''m leaving." The discussion was over, and now only the action to be done.She watched him walk up the street until he was out of sight and felt grief that she had once loved him and didn''t anymore. People who turned to look at her probably sensed her making a decision, saw her almost run after him, but in the end, not. And in that pause, she was shifting roles. Right there on Sixth Avenue, beneath Dr. Caldwell''s office. Deciding to go it alone. Small steps forward, acting on her own interests for once, even if afraid."You are too accommodating," Dr. Caldwell said once. "People take advantage.""She''s too fucking saintly," Michael said. "Not a great turn-on!""No," Dr. Caldwell said seriously. "No, it''s not."After Marina watched Michael hurry up the street, head bent, she turned the other way and went toward Liberty Avenue. A tiny plan was forming. She and Michael were scheduled to see Dr. Caldwell next week to work out finances and rules: How would they separate? Would they see each other, call each other in that time? How often? Who would pay for what?The fact was, they had hardly enough money for one household, definitely not enough for two. Michael had loans to pay off, they had a high mortgage, their bank account was a mess. One of their cars had broken down and they''d given it up--just told the guys at the station to sell it. They were down to one car, but Marina was going to need a car, on her own, in her own place.They''d lived beyond their means, like so many in their generation, with their Cuisinarts and all-wool carpets and two cars. The dull facts emerged six months back, along with everything else, bigger things than money, when they first went to Dr. Caldwell, pretending to themselves they needed to figure out what to do differently, but really in the beginning stages of unwinding from each other.Beside myself, Marina thought, feeling the truth of that expression. She was someone else walking along beside her body. Why, she couldn''t even remember where the bus stop was! Finally remembered. After she did her one tiny bit of investigation, she would walk up past that newspaper box and take the bus home.She headed toward the Clark Building.All she wanted was truth and yet she kept up appearances, walking as if she could think, and people smiled back at her, one jaunty man, one old woman, as if this were some other time in her life when she was a woman of fashion, feeling good. Was this her way of not offending anyone with the dark wells of sadness in her?Had she become an actress--Dr. Caldwell thought so--because she had a need to turn rage and grief into something acceptable? Make something good out of it.Not bother anybody.And so she wor

Editorial Reviews

"Taken is a tough and tender thriller by a writer who knows the world of the heart as well as the world of crime. Kathleen George takes the reader on an intense, suspenseful ride in which even evil has a human face. This is a moving, gripping and mutilayered story in which the search for love touches everything, even grief for a lost baby. Ms. George''s spare but eloquent style does justice to the important topic of the adoption industry in the U.S."— Perri O''Shaughnessy, author of Move to Strike"Taken is that rare thriller that gives as much weight to its characters and prose as it does to its ticking time-bomb plot. The story drew me in, but it was the author''s fallible, very human cast that kept me coming back for more. I look forward to reading anything that Kathleen George writes."— George P. Pelecanos, author of Right as Rain"Taken is wonderful — tautly constructed, complex. The criminals are as interesting as the heroes."— Nicholas Pileggi, author of Wise GuysIn the row in front of her sat a man and a baby.If she hadn''t looked, if she had sat in the front of the bus, so many things might have been different.She looked, as she always had (on planes, in doctors'' waiting rooms, anywhere), toward the sound of a child. In the man''s lap was a boy in blue overalls and a T-shirt that was a sea of sailboats."Oh, hello!" she said. "There you are again!"For a moment there was stillness.It seemed the man would turn to her, but he moved his shoulder forward to shield the baby.Marina''s gut reacted long before her mind did. Her stomach dropped. A moment''s vertigo seized her.Some other child, she told herself. The man is simply being protective. She looked again.And the baby looked at her, studied her, making his little thoughtful faces. No, this was the same child.She leaned forward. She thought, What am I doing? My life is falling apart, why court someone else''s problem.The boy began to cry....