Review by Booklist Review
Oates' daring journey through the labyrinths of criminal minds takes a fierce turn in this unflinching yet restrained tale of the sick symbiosis between an abducted child and his fiendish captor. Dinah, a white woman living in Michigan, defied her nasty mother to marry Whit, a black radio personality. They love and adore their son, Robbie, who is a smart if high-strung five-year-old when a stranger ambushes Dinah in a mall parking lot, grabs her son, and nearly kills her when she desperately runs after his van. Known as Chester Cash, a secretive itinerant preacher and craftsman, this monster calls himself Daddy Love as he conducts his gruesome regime of torture, rape, and reward, which we witness from both his and Robbie's perspectives over the course of six grim years. For all the horror and sensationalism of her wrenching subject, Oates judiciously charts Robbie's brutal metamorphosis and Dinah's resilience in an urgently compelling and drastically revealing study of evil, habitual terror, and survival. HIGH-DEMAND BACK STORY: Expect heated interest from Oates devotees and all readers drawn to strongly wrought, psychologically incisive dark tales.--Seaman, Donna Copyright 2010 Booklist
From Booklist, Copyright (c) American Library Association. Used with permission.
Review by Publisher's Weekly Review
At the start of this gripping psychological thriller from Oates (The Gravedigger's Daughter), Dinah Whitcomb is playing the "find our car" game with her five-year-old son, Robbie, in the parking lot of an Ypsilanti, Mich., mall when a stranger seizes the boy and runs over Dinah in his van, maiming her. Robbie is renamed Gideon by Daddy Love, his abductor, who has kidnapped several little boys through the years, killing them when they're adolescents and "too old" for him. The outside world knows Daddy Love as Chet Cash, a loving father, a sensitive artist, and itinerant preacher. Spanning six years, the action shifts between Gideon and Daddy Love, who's quick to mete out cruel punishments, and Dinah and her husband, bonded by guilt in a crumbling marriage. The creep factor ramps up when the intuitive Gideon realizes that he's not Daddy Love's only "son" and the fate that awaits him. This unsettling tale showcases Oates's masterful storytelling. Agent: Warren Frazier, John Hawkins & Associates. (Jan.) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.
(c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved
Review by Kirkus Book Review
Oates raises a troubling question here--whether moral fiction can emerge out of a morally reprehensible character. Chester Cash, aka Daddy Love, is an itinerant preacher with a penchant for abducting and torturing young boys, and the novel begins with one such abduction. Five-year-old Robbie Whitcomb is doted on by his mother, Dinah, but one day, in the parking lot of a shopping mall, she neglects her son just long enough to have him spirited away by Daddy Love. In trying to prevent this horrifying act from occurring, Dinah is run over by Love's van and never physically recovers. Love makes off with Robbie and eventually moves him from Michigan to New Jersey, where they live in virtual seclusion. Love gives out that he's a widower who doesn't want to talk about his late wife--a statement which is, by the way, true--and a suspicion lingers in our minds that he might well have murdered his wife, a well-to-do woman about 40 years older than Love. Through confinement and humiliation, Robbie is trained to see the preacher as his "real" father, although Love, like his ironic name, is obviously a grotesque perversion of paternal solicitude. He deprives Robbie of food, confines him in a "truth box" and sexually abuses him. After six years, Robbie is able to escape and reunite with his parents. Dinah is jubilant about this reunion, though Whit, Dinah's husband, is somewhat less so, in part because his status as the father of a missing child made him a quasi-celebrity. But Robbie, of course, is not the same child at 11 that he was at 5, and their family reconnection is, to put it charitably, uneasy. This is an uncomfortable novel to read; Oates makes us squirm as she forces us to see some of the action through Love's twisted and warped perspective.]] Copyright Kirkus Reviews, used with permission.
Copyright (c) Kirkus Reviews, used with permission.