Saving Sophie reunites the team of Chicago private investigator Liam Taggert and attorney Catherine Lockhart from Ronald Balson’s previous novel, Once We Were Brothers. They are joined by a large cast of intriguing and credible characters.
Jack Sommers, a Jewish accountant, has tragically lost his wife Alina to a sudden illness. His father-in-law, Dr. Arif-al-Zahani, fights Jack for custody of his daughter Sophie and eventually kidnaps her. Al-Zahani is a suspected Palestinian terrorist and part of the violent Sons of Canaan cell intent on ending Jewish existence in Israel. He resides in an impenetrable compound in violent and dangerous Hebron. It is there he keeps Sophie and tries to turn her against her father and the American way of life.
In Jack’s desperation to get Sophie back he aligns himself with Russian mobsters who promise him help in rescuing Sophie. Together they work out an embezzlement scheme to get the ransom money. Jack steals $88 million from his law firm’s client, flees from Chicago to Hawaii to await word from his cohorts, and runs into a former close friend, Marcy. He is the subject of an intense hunt by his firm’s PI, Mosad agents, the CIA, the Russian government, and the local police.
Kayla Cummings, an Israeli operative working with the Americans, has her sights set on Al-Zahani and sees Jack and Liam as her entrée into his clandestine activities. The three of them must make their way to Hebron to ransom Sophie, but also to monitor and thwart a suspected deadly plot of large proportions.
The fast-paced intrigue and plot twists seize the reader from the engrossing opening to the stirring ending. Balson reveals information bit by bit and drops enough clues for the reader to steadily read on. The many threads of the narrative include kidnapping, murders, embezzlement schemes, realistic courtroom scenes, college basketball point shaving, continuing and new love stories, and investigative and anti-terrorist techniques.
At the heart of the action is the Arab-Israeli conflict. Historical, political, and biblical information infuses the characters’ stories and quandaries, encompassing thousands of years of enmity, deep-seated prejudices, and the often disputed or overlooked facts behind personal and religious tragedies.
Saving Sophie is a page turning read filled with despair and anger but with hope, love, and humanity at its core.
Renita Last is a member of the Nassau Region of Hadassah’s Executive Board. She has coordinated the Film Forum Series for the Region and served as Programming and Health Coordinators and as a member of the Advocacy Committee.
She has volunteered as a docent at the Holocaust Memorial and Tolerance Center of Nassau County teaching the all- important lessons of the Holocaust and tolerance. A retired teacher of the Gifted and Talented, she loves participating in book clubs and writing projects.