Every Fear by Rick Mofina (Pinnacle, 2006)


Start with this. Every human being is flawed. Every human being has baggage. Crime writer, Rick Mofina, takes that premise and uses it to develop engaging characters in his novels. Every Fear, the second in Mofina's Jason Wade series, is riveting from the first page, largely because of the character development and the edge of one's seat plot that Mofina constructs masterfully.

Mofina uses a Biblical quote to introduce the story of Every Fear, lines taken from Kings 1:3: And the king said, Divide the living child in two and give half to the one and half to the other. Then spake the woman whose the living child was unto the king, for her bowels yearned upon her son, and she said, O my lord, give her the living child, and in no wise slay it. But the other said, Let it be neither mine nor thing, but divide it.

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These words, taken from the tale of the wise King Solomon, introduce the novel's theme of the extreme power of a mother's love as a driving force. Maria Colson, a young mother, who was told that she would never be able to conceive, and her husband, Lee, live in a modest home in northwest Seattle. Lee hopes to one day own his own towing firm, but for the moment, the couple can't afford to own a business. Right now they are basking in the joy of having the child that they so longed to have.

It's a usual day and Maria takes a stroll to the corner market, where she leaves baby Dylan for seconds with Shannon, a shop clerk, to purchase a loaf of bread and some milk. When Maria notices an odd look on the face of old Mrs. Kim, the store owner, she glances outside and sees that Dylan's stroller had disappeared and she dashes from the store. “Adrenaline propelled her to the street. All of her senses were pushed to superhuman levels as she saw Dylan's stroller, rolling, toppling over the curb.”

In desperation, Maria throws herself onto the hood of the moving van that is taking away her only child from her, and is thrown violently to the ground. Left for dead, Maria drifts into oblivion, leaving the fate of her child for others to discern.

Jason Wade, a novice reporter with the Seattle Mirror, is working under extreme stress with an unrelenting boss, Fritz Spangler, who demands much of his employees as a result of the pressure newspapers have to stay afloat in a world that likes its media delivered instantaneously via the internet and television. Wade struggles to appease his boss by digging hard for leads, acting like a detective himself, and using every advantage that he can come up with the get the big story.

Jason's father, a former police officer, now has his own private investigation firm, and he is enormously helpful to Jason in procuring leads that take the reporter to dangerous places in search of the Colson baby. Mofina, a former newspaper man himself, understands the rough shod and often lonely life of a reporter, who works long hours and dines on stale cupcakes out of vending machines. There are times when Jason feels the loneliness of his job as he struggles to make deadlines and big headlines.

Detective Grace Garner, working the Colson case, has a traumatic past to overcome as well. She was witness to a terrible event during her high school days, and has taken on the guilt for being unable to stop the tragedy as a teenager. Her self recrimination have made it impossible for her to go on with a personal life, although she is capable of performing her professional duties quite well.

Therefore, it is inevitable that Jason and Grace's worlds are going to collide while they are working angles on the Colson kidnapping that bring them together. A mysterious informant helps to put Jason on the path which may lead to the truth about what has happened to Dylan Colson. Their search leads them to discover characters whose baggage is so horrific that it has scarred them and turned them into monsters.

Mofina's fast paced writing leaves the reader breathless as the book takes unexpected turns that surprise and confound. The ending of the novel, which I am not even going to give the least hint about, is spectacular, and it leads us back to the Biblical quote with which Mofina began the novel. For those who love compelling reads, combining crime solving and newspaper reporting, check out the Jason Wade series, including A Perfect Grave and The Dying Hour as well as Every Fear.