<blockquote>When she was a kid, the shrinks told her she had anger issues. But she didn't have anger issues, at least not the way that they meant. She was just angry.</blockquote>As well she should be.
When Kit Lannigan was six years old, she was abducted by someone in the middle of the day and America (and her family) assumed the worst things possible had happened. Most of them did. But when she was 12 or 13, the FBI rescued her from her abductors. We meet Kit, now calling herself Kick, about a decade later, much changed. She's seen a million shrinks, taken up all sorts of self-defense, forms of personal protection and weapons to make herself feel safe. She's fairly well adjusted -- and angry. She's patched together a life that works for her. Then an arms dealer looking to do a little good in the world, John Bishop, comes to her. Bishop wants her help in tracking down -- and hopefully rescuing -- two local abducted children.
We are all relieved -- and honestly, generally surprised -- when one of those children we see on Amber Alerts gets rescued in relatively good health, particularly years after their abduction. But on the other hand, we do know (whether we say it out loud or not) that this poor kid is going to be dealing with this trauma for the rest of their lives. And on occasion, we get updates from them on morning news shows on the anniversaries of their rescues, or the occasional book. But on the whole, soon after their ordeal is over we forget them (which is probably good -- anonymity is probably the best chance they have at a near normal life). Still, we've all wondered what life is like for them. We get one idea from the first couple of Lisa Gardner's D. D. Warren books or Heitor Dhalia's <b>Gone</b>. <b>One Kick</b> gives us one more. And it's a doozy.
Is Kick as formidable a fighter as she thinks she is? Nope. She's not a Gina Carano character or <a href="http://www.zoesharp.com/meetfox.htm" target="_blank">Charlie Fox</a>. Which is a relief -- I prefer seeing her not that capable -- and yet, she thinks she's much better than she is. Which is probably the only way she gets out of bed in the morning. Still, she could hold her own against more people in a fight than most of humanity.
There is a psychological realism to the depictions here that adds a degree of credibility to Cain's characters and story. Now, I don't know how realistic it is, honestly -- but it sure seems real, and in a novel, that's pretty much all you're looking for. "Do I think that this trauma would/could result in this behavior?" is the only question the reader needs to ask. And Cain nails it with all her characters, not just Kick (although she does her best here, as we spend more time with Kick than the rest combined).
Do not get me started on Kick and her dog. So good.
If you're not sure that this premise interests you? Stay away. The violence, the psychological damage, the rawness of it all will not appeal to everyone (probably shouldn't, either). It's not a fun, "yee-haw, let's take out some bad guys" kind of suspense novel, either. Go into this with your eyes open.
Much more than a revenge novel, or a suspense novel about tracking down abducted children, <b>One Kick</b> is about some very damaged people trying to turn their experiences into something that can help someone else. If that provides a measure of relief for Kick, Bishop and the rest? So much the better. Good action, fast-paced (but not at a break-neck speed), some characters you probably don't relate to, but can actually like. A couple characters you hate -- a strong visceral kind of hate. Really worth the read. I'm looking forward to seeing where Cain takes Kick next.