Wednesday, March 09, 2005

The Safest Place on Earth by Mark Best

"The Safest Place on Earth" by Mark Best, Thrilling Detective, Spring 2005

Fourteen year old Chastity Reiling has disappeared. Dan Brogan, ex-FBI agent and current private investigator, has been hired to find her. Unfortunately the parents just received a note stating that the girl had been kidnapped, no ransom demand, just the information. Now the FBI is involved, and the agent in charge, Stultz, doesn't like PIs in general and Brogan in particular.

After a short introduction that occurs right after the FBI have arrived on scene, we flash back to when and why Brogan was hired. During this backgrounding working up to where the intro left off, we learn that the girl’s father, Cameron Reiling, is a very powerful man with the arrogance to go along with it. While trying to hire Brogan, Reiling gets crosswise with him, and Brogan walks out. Mrs. Reiling has been eavesdropping, apparently not for the first or last time. She stops Brogan and hires him herself.

This brings us back to the present. Along with the FBI Brogan goes to interview Chastity’s boyfriend, Matt, again. During this interview they discover that Matt and Chastity’s best friend, Ashley, are engaging in a little slap-and-tickle, and have been for a while. This makes Matt a prime suspect.

Soon the body of a young girl is found. She’s been dead a while, but she is identified as Chastity Reiling. The state of decomposition proves that she was dead before the Reilings received the kidnapping note. This gives Stultz the ammunition to finally freeze Brogan out of the case. But Brogan has other avenues to follow. He gets a copy of the ME’s report and finds out that Chastity was two month’s pregnant. This information and one other bit lead him to the murderer.

Brogan is a likable guy. I’d like to see more of him. I enjoyed the story, but I have one quibble. The identity of the murderer wasn’t terribly shocking or surprising. Five years ago, the shock value would have been higher. The ending is a bit different, though, well set up with the character and actions of Mrs. Reiling.

In short, a good story.