‘The Prisoner’ by B. A. Paris is a clever mystery with several surprises

B. A. Paris kept the identity of the title character of her last novel, “The Therapist,” a mystery for much of the story. In her latest mystery, “The Prisoner,” we know exactly who the prisoner is. In fact, we read in the first chapter how Amelie has been taken prisoner. While we know that there are many facts that we need to learn, such as why she thought it was her husband who was doing the abduction, we realize that Amelie will share that information either in the chapters labeled “Present,” which detail what is going on currently, or the chapters labeled “Past” which inform us how Amelie ended up in this devastating situation.

Amelie’s situation is pretty creepy. She’s kept in a dark room with no lights. There is a bathroom with a faint light that only goes on when the door is bolted, but the window is covered in thick wood and the door to the rest of the house is locked. Those who come in to feed her do not speak, and she has no idea why anyone would kidnap her.

On the other hand, she does understand why someone might want to kidnap her husband, Neb Hawthorpe. His father is obscenely wealthy, and Neb inherited his grandfather’s fortune through some manipulation and misdirection. To put it bluntly, her husband is not a nice person. But as the days pass, and she is able to hear some noises from the room below, Amelie learns the goal of the kidnappers. Of course, she has her suspicions about who they are, but she is frightened that both she and Neb will be killed, or that even if Neb’s father pays the ransom, she will be killed because neither Neb nor his father cares about her.

We learn why she married the despicable Neb, although we have our doubts about why he married her. The teacher in me delights that the plot introduces a mathematical problem that I enjoyed teaching my students. And while Neb might be worth billions, we see that Amelie might just be able to best him.

Paris’s ability to write Amelie’s story in first person narrative is extremely effective. We are drawn into her plight, and we understand why she made the decisions she did that ended up with her kidnapping. As the story unfolds, we are drawn in, more and more, as we root for Amelie to survive, though we know she’s not coming out unscathed.

This is a novel that you will find difficult to put down, especially after the first half. Paris excels at writing simple dialogue that is realistic and moves the plot forward in a seemingly effortless manner. Her settings are described with just enough detail to allow us to “see” the place. And she has an uncanny ability to share the emotions of the narrator. If you haven’t read Paris’s other novels, it’s pretty much guaranteed that after reading this one, you will want to go back and see what you’ve missed.

This review. is based on the final hardcover book provided by St. Martin’s Press, the publisher, for review purposes.