A book review: Chelsea Cain – One Kick


Chelsea Cain’s new series features the Kick Lannigan survivor of an abduction who was rescued by the FBI after six years of captivity during which time she was abused and that abuse was filmed and then sold across the internet. Ten years later she’s still getting notifications from a federal agency that the films of her abuse are being bought and sold. As is pointed out to her at an FBI field office, after all these years she’s still the biggest box office draw on paedophile message boards and websites. 

When a girl is abducted Kick is approached by Bishop a mysterious man with seemingly unlimited resources who wants her to help investigate the disappearance as well as that of Adam Rice who disappeared a few months previously and whose abduction Bishop believes is linked. With resources seemingly unavailable to the FBI, Kick and Bishop travel to various places of interest across the American North West where clues are discovered, people are beaten up and Kick and Bishop do what was obvious they would do the minute the two of them set eyes upon each others. Kick’s brother James is a computer genius who creates algorithms that can trawl and fish data to aid Kick in her job, oh and throw in some stereotypical paedophiles, a pushy ‘mom’ and a grizzled FBI agent with heart of gold and that’s your book – at times it’s almost a thriller by numbers with an ending that not so much sets up the rest of the series but shouts out to the reader “YES, THERE ARE MORE BOOKS COMING!!!” 

I’ve really enjoyed the Chelsea Cain books that preceded One Kick – featuring Archie and Gretchen, the damaged cop and his devoted serial killer nemesis/number one fan, the six books had characters you got to know and care about and get upset about when bad things happened to them. They had a sense of humour, situations which you couldn’t work out how they would be resolved, impossible scenarios that never seemed too outlandish or unrealistic even though at times they probably were but that didn’t really matter as you were just along for the ride and it was a thrilling ride. I guess what I’m trying to say is that everything Cain’s previous books were and everything that I loved about the Archie and Gretchen series turned into everything I really disliked about Kick. 

One example of what annoyed me about this book was the character of Bishop, he’s a fixer, a success with the ladies who can clear a high security prison corridor when it’s needed for a chat, he can tell the FBI what to do, knows things before anybody else does but only shares this after the other person has worked it out, he is cold, mysterious, apparently has a wife who he cheats on but he still is able to undertake a sentimental task towards the end of the book – he’s not a complete bastard you understand. He is however a crushingly predictable character – the corporation’s big man who gets things done and won’t let anything or anybody stand in his way but who at the same time probably loves his mum and watches cat videos of YouTube. The issue for me is that he’s not the only cliché riddled character that populate Kick. 

I was so disappointed by this book especially as I’d had really high hopes having thoroughly enjoyed all of Ms Cain’s previous books. Previously to this I’d read a book which had similar themes entitled The Edge of Normal by Carla Smith – that was a fantastic read which achieved everything that for me Kick failed to do. My advice would be to read that and then get stuck into Cain’s Archie and Gretchen series – I can’t recommend them highly enough. 

If I did them then a sad face smiley would be here. 

One Kick by Chelsea Cain is out in the UK on 14th August


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