By Ana Downes
Originally published in 1979, The Kidnapping of Christina Lattimore is a very compelling mystery that remains relevant even 42 years later. Fans of the mystery genre or people who enjoy the classic Nancy Drew style novel will certainly find this book fascinating. It features a relatable teen character and an entertaining story.
The protagonist, Christina, is a teen in high school who has a seemingly perfect life. She has a rich family, a mansion, and an extremely wealthy grandmother who pays for her education. However, Christina isn’t very happy. In her opinion, her parents don’t understand her, her grandmother is too controlling, and she doesn’t have enough independence. Christina becomes especially upset after her parents refuse to let her go on a school trip to France with the rest of her class. She doesn’t have the money to pay for it herself, and her grandmother refuses to let her use a portion of her education fund to finance the trip.
Feeling upset, she goes to the local diner with her best friend, Lorna, where she begins to plot various ways to raise money for the trip. While they are at the diner, Christina begins to feel very uneasy because the manager is staring at her in a very creepy manner. Later, she is drugged and kidnapped in the driveway of her home. When she wakes up, she is in a dark basement on a cot. A man later comes down the stairs wearing a ski mask.
Joan Lowery Nixon wrote this story in Christina’s perspective, which is a very effective choice. Readers can relate to the emotions that she experiences throughout the novel, including her fear, vulnerability and desperation. This style also helps to clearly convey Christina’s personal thoughts.
I read many Nancy Drew novels as a child and am a big fan of the mystery genre, so I found myself very intrigued by the events that occurred in the novel. As I read through, I found myself guessing and trying to piece the details together along with Christina.
This book is very unique in terms of plotline. The general ‘template’ of the plots in the mystery genre starts with a mystery that must be solved, and at the end of the novel, the ‘case is closed’ and the reader discovers the answer to the mystery. In this novel, we as readers learn who the perpetrator is as well as discover why Christina was kidnapped very early on. The ‘mystery’ is solved in the first third of the novel. The surprising aspect of this is that the reveal doesn’t detract from the mystery and suspense of the plot at all!
This book is filled with twists that make you question what is happening. Another unique plot aspect is that we get to experience Christina’s switch from victim to suspect as she is framed for orchestrating her own kidnapping. Don’t worry, this isn’t a spoiler – the author includes this on the back cover of the book! Nixon was effective in portraying Christina’s feelings in words. While I was reading, I felt worried and uneasy for her. Not only does she have to deal with a traumatic kidnapping, she also faces criminal charges for her alleged involvement!
Overall, this book is an excellent read. It is very suspenseful and will have you at the edge of your seat! It is especially great for lovers of the mystery genre and for people who like to try and solve the mystery along with the novel. Despite how long ago the book was originally published, the story is still compatible with our current day and age. Christina is a relatable character as well; like most teens, she doesn’t really have a grasp on her priorities in life. Before the kidnapping, Christina was absolutely preoccupied by the class trip. She felt as though it was the most important thing in her entire life. After the kidnapping, she comes to realize that not everything that seems extremely important in one moment is significant in the big picture.
I would certainly recommend this compelling read. It is a very well-written fictional story that in the end feels quite real.
Rating – 5 / 5