Monday, March 23, 2020

Books: "Problem Child" By Victoria Helen Stone

Problem Child: A Jane Doe Thriller
By Victoria Helen Stone
Lake Union Publishing; 296 pages; paperback, $14.95; Kindle eBook, $4.99; available March 24

This is the second installment of the Jane Doe series, which focuses on this unique heroine. She is your standard sociopath, standard, manipulative, impulsive, emotionless, and utterly charming.

In Problem Child, Jane is succeeding in appearing next to normal with a boyfriend and a steady job. However, Jane hasn't lost her edge, and it only sharpens when she hears from her estranged family. 

Jane's deeply troubled sixteen-year-old niece Kayla has vanished, and no one seems to care. Neither does Jane - until she sees a picture of Kayla and recognizes herself in the young girl's eyes. 

It's the empty stare of a sociopath, and Jane immediately knows what vengeful and desperate things Kayla is capable of. Despite her brutal childhood - which left Jane permanently wired to look after herself - she heads home to search for Kayla. She is drawn into Kayla's dark and dangerous world knowing that only she can help her niece.

Stone writes in this excerpt from Problem Child: He's in my office again, bothering me. It bothers me just to look at him, but it particularly bothers me when he speaks, and Rob speaks a lot, plumped up on mediocre male confidence and throbbing, virile ego. He's the partners' favorite, so until I take care of him, I have to play it as nicely as I can; but when we're alone, I don't bother. I turn dead eyes on him and stare as he prattles.

"Regardless of all that," he says, continuing whatever train of thought I've blocked out, "you did a pretty good job with this one, Jane."

"I did a great job," I counter.

"Like I said, pretty good. I'll turn over the final numbers to -"

"I already sent the final numbers to the partners, with appropriate credit where it was due. It's all taken care of.

Thanks Robert, you can go."

He blinks, spun into confusion by being casually dismissed. Excuse me?"

"I took care of the details. Wasn't that what you told me to do, Robert? 'Take care of the details'? I sent the wrap-up email to the partners so you wouldn't have to bother with it. You're welcome."

He shakes his head. "What? When?"

"Oh no, did I forget to cc you? I guess I was tired from all those late hours last week. I'll be sure to forward it right now." I smile and hit a few keys on my laptop. The original email wings its way to his account. I also forward the praise-filled responses from two of the founding partners of the law firm, along with my enthusiastic and upbeat thank-yous. Rob can respond now, of course, but he'll still be the guy who stumbled up an hour after all the action, trying to get a leftover piece. A mere postscript. Poor Rob.

He's staring at me. I cut my narrowed eyes toward him. "Is there something else you need?"

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