By TOM WOOD
Author Peter Green has a background as an architect and city planner, so it should come as no surprise that he knows how to build suspense, create tension and construct a well-formed story in his book Fatal Designs, the second in his Patrick MacKenna Mystery series.
Mister MacKenna is a widowed architect/amateur sleuth in St. Louis who dotes on his spunky teen-aged daughter. He is overprotective to such a degree that it creates a wedge in his relationship with Erin MacKenna, who survived the incident that took her mother’s life in Crimes of Design. Erin rebels against her father’s wishes and goes on a seemingly harmless weekend camping adventure with a large group of classmates.
What could go wrong on such an outing to the Ozarks? Just everything, to his great displeasure once he finds out about her deceptions. While out on a float trip with her friends, an earthquake strikes the region and separates Erin’s canoe from the others, stranding her and five friends. Later, while visiting the latrine in the night, she and one of her friends witness a body being buried by two thugs. The young women are taken hostage by human traffickers.
MacKenna, with the aid of a both a sympathetic FBI agent and the new love in his life, launches a desperate search for his daughter. He is not only pitted against forces of nature as buildings and roadways crumble around them, but also against faceless forces of evil in his search for his daughter.
But young Erin shows that she carries within her the seeds of her father’s grit and determination, and more. The father-daughter relationship is tested time and again, and this is where the author’s story is at its strongest. The flawed father also learns life lessons, seeing his daughter in a new light and discovering new things about her strength and resolve.
Erin manages to outwit her kidnappers and escape, then forges a relationship with the new woman in her dad’s life. Her growth from rebellious teen into young womanhood is the most appealing aspect of this psychological thriller, and shows that the ability to overcome flaws is runs in the family.
Tom Wood is the author of the true-crime thriller Vendetta Stone and lives in Nashville, Tennessee.