Stolen Lives follows a team of FBI agents on a kidnapping case that has been hard to crack, and Kelliher realizes that someone on his team may be in on it. What were some sources that informed this novel’s development?
I spent a great deal of time on research, including the FBI website, the Center for Missing and Exploited Children, and various law enforcement sites. I interviewed several individuals who were critical to this novel’s success: Police Chief Jamie Graff (one of my characters in my book, though in my books he is a detective), and James Dahlke, a Forensic Scientist. I interviewed and received help from Jay Cooke and Dave Mirra, who are (Dave has since retired) working in IT and Technology.
Mostly, this book is based upon my work as an adjunct educator with the Wetterling Foundation, who works with missing and exploited families, and educates the public on keeping children safe. I also based it upon my work as a counselor, and though this book is fiction, it is heavily based upon fact: stories I heard from kids and parents in my counseling office and the work with the families of missing children. Heartbreaking and tragic. Still angers and saddens me.
Did you plan the mystery at the heart of this story, or did it develop organically while writing?
I am a “pantser.” I don’t plan ahead. I knew the story I wanted to tell, but I let it unfold in its own way. Typically, it isn’t until I am nearing the end of any book when the actual ending “comes” to me.
What scene in the book did you have the most fun writing?
This is a dark book, but I enjoyed the kids’ interaction with each other. I enjoyed the kids standing up to the adults and their willingness to speak their mind to them. Specifically, I enjoyed it when the ones needing to be held accountable were held accountable. I believe in justice, even if life doesn’t always have a Disney ending.
This is book one in your Lives Trilogy. What can readers expect in book two?
There were several loose ends in Stolen Lives. Several of the “bad guys” got away. But a sizeable portion of the next two books, besides catching the “bad guys” is how these missing kids, some of whom were missing and abused for more than a year, reintegrate back into their families. How do they get along without their informal “kid” network? What happens within the family? I answer those questions.
Lastly, George, Brett, Tim, and the Twins (Randy and Billy) play huge roles in Stolen. So, what happens to them? What are their lives like now?
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Stolen Lives, by Joseph Lewis is a fast paced crime novel in the how-catch-‘em mystery genre. It’s the story of Officers Pete Kelliher and Summer Storm who have been trying to track down a group of pedophiles. Finally, a break comes when Native American teenager George Tokay witnesses the murder of a teenage boy in the desert, and reports it to the authorities. For years, Kelliher and Storm have unsuccessfully hunted the pedophiles who kidnapped, raped, tortured and killed young boys. Through years of stumbling blocks and dead ends, the officers now have a solid lead to pursue. With the knowledge Tokay shared, Kelliher and Storm must act aggressively to capture the perpetrators.
Author Joseph Lewis clear writing keeps the focus on the story among a highly detailed world and riveting mystery. His descriptions are sharp and focused, and he creates authentic heart-tugging sympathy for the victims. We get to know the offenders, but Lewis doesn’t focus his writing on the “bad guys.” Instead, he pulls the reader into the lives of the frightened teen-age boys, and what they must endure to survive. Lewis also creates a strong bond among the boys, with Brett being somewhat of a protector of them.
This story reminds me of the popular and much-loved author, Tony Hillerman. Set in the desert of Albuquerque, New Mexico, like Hillerman, the Native American aspect, and imagery, is significant throughout the novel. However, Lewis thrives as an author by not only dealing with the emotions of these surviving boys, but also dealing with the flood of questions and emotions of the parents of the surviving boys.
Stolen Lives is a riveting murder mystery that slowly unravels a puzzling crime that will have readers furiously flipping pages. With realistic characters a reader can relate to and sympathize with, and a fast-paced and action filled plot, Lewis has created an engaging story that is a fantastic start to his Lives Trilogy.
Pages: 259 | ASIN: B094RJ49XD
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Three fourteen-year-old boys are inextricably linked by abduction and murder.
Two of them were just abducted off a safe suburban street. Kelliher and his team of FBI agents have 24 hours to find them or they’ll end up like all the others… dead! They have no leads, no clues, and nothing to go on. And the possibility exists that one of his team members might be involved. A fourth boy, George Tokay, a Navajo, holds a key piece to this puzzle and doesn’t realize it.
Kelliher and his team have been on this case for two years. There isn’t much to go on, and each time he gets a break, potential witnesses are found dead. The stories of these boys are like loose threads on a sweater: pull the wrong one and it unravels completely. Slowly, Kelliher realizes that there may be one or more members of his team behind it all.
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