Written by Shannon Kirk — Dorothy M Salucci is 16. She sits captive in a room 12 by 24 feet. She is not scared like one would expect her to be. Instead, she plots her escape and her revenge. The Method by Shannon Kirk is the tale of a young and extraordinary prodigy who puts her smarts to the test as she tries to outwit her kidnappers.
The mystery as to how and why the narrator has been kidnapped slowly comes into focus. We learn that Dorothy comes from an extraordinary family. Her mother is a hard-hitting, tenacious trial lawyer. Her father is an ex-Navy seal writing a research book about radioactive therapies. From a young age, our narrator was different and now she wonders if her extraordinary abilities were the catalyst for her abduction.
Dorothy had a fully working adult science lab in her basement from the age of six. A scan when she was a child showed an abnormality in her frontal lobe, and her brain is larger than normal, giving her the capacity to intentionally shut off fear at will. She is special and gifted in every sense. The skill of being able to ignore fear serves her in captivity so instead of being scared she methodically plots her way out.
Shannon Kirk’s narrative is filled with specific and extraordinary details that in the hands of a lesser writer would weaken the narrative. But she uses quirks well and the results are surprising and compelling. There are so many twists that it is difficult to write about the book without giving too much away and spoiling the fun.
The protagonist turns out to be almost eight months pregnant at the time of her kidnapping and the reason for her abduction might be more complicated than it seems. The pregnancy adds yet another twist to the narrative and an emotional element putting even more on the line.
Kirk intersperses chapters from the perspective of FBI special agent Roger Liu who is searching for Salucci in what we find out is the middle of Indiana. The author knows how to use tension to her advantage and it is sustained and ticked up through the early narrative making this the kind of book you stay up well past bedtime to keep reading.
Scientific in her scheming, the captive narrator examines and mentally catalogs every ‘asset’ that can aid her escape. She studies every movement and memorises the routines of the people who are keeping her. She will use their patterns against them and escape. She is strong, never pities herself and, in turn, we don’t pity her either.
The action picks up in the middle with a major plot twist, and surprises are just around every corner. Kirk thickens her plot and each time you think you’ve figured it out a surprise awaits. The kidnapping tale is not one that induces fear as you read. Instead, the story feels heroic as we watch the narrator figure her way out of the trap.
The last third isn’t as the powerful as the book’s beginning, and the ending feels too neat and tidy, a bit forced and melodramatic. Perhaps the main action is resolved a little soon and the rest of the book drags and feels a touch mundane.
The Method is a great read despite a few flaws. It packs suspense and emotion, and is a unique read. It’s a thrilling page turner that defies the conventional kidnapping tale.
Another one to try is Pretty Is, by Maggie Mitchell.
CFL Rating: 4 Stars