Wednesday, May 14, 2014

WWRW: Frozen Footprints


I first read Therese Heckenkamp’s Catholic suspense novel Frozen Footprints about a year ago.  A big fan of Heckenkamp’s work (after reading her debut novel, Past Suspicion), I meant to do a review of Frozen Footprints when I finished it; but I procrastinated just long enough to realize that if I wanted to do the book justice, I would have to re-read it so that I could write about it while the details were still fresh in my mind.

I recently did read Frozen Footprints again--and boy, am I ever glad I did!  I remembered that I couldn’t stop turning the pages the first time I read it, anxious to see what was going to happen next.  And I remembered that faith played a huge role in the story.  But I actually had a deeper appreciation of Heckenkamp’s award-winning book (a recipient of the Catholic Writers Guild Seal of Approval) the second time I read it, even though I knew exactly what was going to happen this time around.  I was struck by just how deft a storyteller she is, and just how expertly and movingly she has woven elements of the Catholic Faith into this edge-of-your-seat thriller.

The story revolves around the kidnapping of Maxwell Goodwyne Perigard III ("Max"), the teenage grandson of Maxwell Goodwyne Perigard I and the twin brother of Charlene.  The twins have been under the care of their selfish and tight-fisted grandfather since their father’s accidental death left them orphans a couple of years back. Grandfather is an extremely wealthy man who lives in a lavish mansion, complete with a chapel for Mass (although outside the doors of this chapel, he doesn’t come close to acting like a Christian); his great wealth—along with the ruthless business tactics he has employed--make him a perfect target for acts of revenge.

When Max suddenly goes missing, his grandfather assumes he’s just playing a prank and doesn’t take it seriously at all.  After all, he’s threatened to run away many times in the past.  Charlene, however, receives a frightening call from the kidnapper, with instructions for delivering a $2 million ransom, and she intuitively knows this is no joke.  When the police, over whom her grandfather has undue influence, refuse to look into the matter properly, Charlene starts doing her own detective work.  Her sleuthing leads her to Max; but unfortunately, she also ends up being taken captive by the same crazed, vengeful, violent man who kidnapped her brother.  The two siblings are locked in a cold, tomb-like hole, underneath a lonely ramshackle cabin in the middle of nowhere.  There is no phone, no electricity…and most likely, no way out.  And because it's winter and the outside world is blanketed with white, if they attempt escape they will leave easy-to-follow footprints in the snow.

Heckenkamp has created a truly terrifying character in kidnapper Abner Morrow; he is a brutal, evil man who is undoubtedly possessed by the forces of darkness.  He is utterly barbaric in his treatment of the Perigard twins--and even his younger brother Clay, who unwittingly becomes part of the kidnapping plan, is not spared the violence of his words and his fists.  She has also created one of the most resourceful and determined characters in Charlene Perigard, who is about as fully rounded-out as any character I’ve come across in my reading travels of late.  She goes through the whole gamut of emotions in the course of the story: despair at the hopelessness of their situation; hope, which keeps her working tirelessly to come up with a way to survive the ordeal; anger—at God, at the kidnappers; empathy--for Clay, who in a way is as much a victim as she and Max; and ultimately, deep faith, which sustains her in her darkest hours.

My husband, a former military man, used to repeat that well-known adage, “There are no atheists in foxholes.”  Yet it is rare in this secularized world of ours to find characters in books or movies who turn to God when they are in extremely dangerous and terrifying situations and their lives are in mortal danger.  It is rare to see them turn to prayer for comfort and refuge.  Heckenkamp’s characters aren’t all as strong in their faith as they should or could be when the story begins; but when they are thrown together into a living nightmare—a true life-or-death situation—they do turn to Him.  Sometimes, in their desperation, they wonder if He’s listening at all.  But they do pray.  And a Rosary Charlene has in her pocket when she’s taken captive proves to be a life-saver, in more ways than one.

This book really has it all, truly.  It’s a page-turning thrill ride; but it’s also an insightful character study, and there are even hints of a love story in there.  Most of all, Frozen Footprints is a testament to the Catholic Faith, and how it makes sense of the most senseless hardships and sufferings in life.  Heckenkamp shows that to believe is to know real courage in the face of fear.  The last page of this book illustrates this message so beautifully that it will bring tears to your eyes.

Highly recommended!

Now head on over to Jessica's blogging book club for more!

Okay now, before I sign off, I just want to get in a little plug for Finding Grace.  You can now purchase  a signed copy of the book here, using the yellow Pay Pal button up there on the sidebar (for $13.00, plus $3.25 for s&h).

8 comments:

  1. This one goes on my summer list. Sounds absolutely gripping!

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    1. I think you'll like it. I'm not really even a huge fan of the suspense genre, and I thought this was great.

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  2. What a fabulous review! Thank you from the bottom of my heart, Laura!!!

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    1. Nothing pleases me more than to know you are pleased with it, Therese. I owe you a debt of gratitude, I really do--and the least I can do is to help promote your excellent works. :)

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  3. I downloaded it to my Kindle and read it. What a great book!!

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    1. That was fast--in true Harding style! We sure do love to read, don't we? I remember when the new TV Guide would come in the mail, I used to have to fight people (our other sister, for one) to read the articles in it first. (It was a little pathetic--if I had nothing else to read, I read the backs of the cereal boxes while I ate!)

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    2. I know, I love to read and can read a book in a day if I really like it. This one was great!

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