R.H. Herron’s debut thriller Stolen Things (Dutton) tells the story of a modern scandal involving a police department in a quiet Northern California town. Loosely based on a true story, Herron’s novel provides a closer look at what happens when police officers can’t be trusted to protect and serve their community because they themselves pose the threat.
Stolen Things begins by introducing the reader to 911 dispatcher Laurie Ahmadi. A former police officer, Laurie takes pride in being a part of the department and aiding those who call for help. Which is why it is no surprise that she is quickest to answer the line when the phone rings at the start of her shift. What she isn’t expecting is to hear her 16-year-old daughter Jojo’s voice on the other end.
When Laurie arrives at the house where Jojo has awakened in a drugged haze, her husband and the department’s police chief, Omid, is already on scene and ready to arrest the homeowner, professional football player Kevin Leeds. Jojo doesn’t recall how she ended up there, nor can she remember what happened. To complicate things even further, Jojo’s best friend Harper is nowhere to be found and the body of Kevin’s trainer and close friend is soon discovered in a closet with clear evidence of murder.
What follows this stunning opening chapter is a complicated web of corruption and deceit that makes Laurie question everything she thought she knew about her friends and colleagues as well as her own personal beliefs. Told in alternating narratives by Laurie and Jojo, Herron seamlessly weaves together a story that feels unsettlingly real in the issues that it addresses.
While trying to cope with her daughter’s trauma, Laurie starts to realize that the people she would usually turn to for support may be somehow connected to what happened at Kevin Leeds’ house. Kevin’s involvement with the CapB movement – “Citizens Against Police Brutality” – only adds another layer to Laurie’s conflicted feelings towards her friends and family.
Jojo is also dealing with the aftermath of her ordeal while determined to figure out what has happened to Harper. Struggling with some secrets of her own, Jojo ultimately turns to her mother when the two realize they will need to depend on each other in order to solve the mystery of what really happened in that house.
Stolen Things is a fast-paced thriller with layers of plot twists. Readers may go into the story with certain expectations but will be pleasantly surprised by how much deeper the storyline goes. Through the lens of the mother-daughter narrative, Herron addresses issues about major topics including sexual assault, race, identity/sexuality, and the role of social media in our society that feel like they’ve been ripped straight from current headlines.
Stolen Things will be available for purchase on August 20.
About R.H. Herron
Rachael Herron is the internationally bestselling author of more than two dozen books, including thriller (under R.H. Herron), mainstream fiction, feminist romance, memoir, and nonfiction about writing. She received her MFA in writing from Mills College, Oakland, and she teaches writing extension workshops at both UC Berkeley and Stanford. She is a proud member of the NaNoWriMo Writer’s Board. She’s a New Zealand citizen as well as an American.