Finding Jake
by Bryan Reardon

Overview -

A heart-wrenching yet ultimately uplifting story of psychological suspense in which a parent is forced to confront what he does--and does not--know about his teenage son

For sixteen years, Simon Connelly's successful wife has gone to her law office each day, while he has stayed home to raise their children.  Read more...

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More About Finding Jake by Bryan Reardon

A heart-wrenching yet ultimately uplifting story of psychological suspense in which a parent is forced to confront what he does--and does not--know about his teenage son

For sixteen years, Simon Connelly's successful wife has gone to her law office each day, while he has stayed home to raise their children. Though Simon has loved taking care of Jake and Laney, it has cost him a part of himself, and has made him an anomaly in his pretty, suburban neighborhood--the only stay-at-home dad among a tight circle of mothers.

Shepherding them through childhood, the angst-ridden father has tried to do the best for the kids, even if he often second-guesses his choices. For sunny, outgoing Laney, it's been easy. But quiet Jake has always preferred the company of his books or his sister to playdates and organized sports. Now that they are in high school, Simon should feel more relaxed, but he doesn't. He's seen the statistics, read the headlines.

Then, on a warm November day, he receives a text: There has been a shooting at the high school.

Racing to the rendezvous point, Simon is forced to wait with scores of other anxious fathers and tearful mothers, overwhelmed by the disturbing questions running through his head. How many victims were there? Why did this happen? One by one, parents are reunited with their children. Their numbers dwindle, until Simon is alone. Laney has gone home with her mom. Jake is the only child missing.

As his worst nightmare unfolds, Simon begins to obsess over the past, searching for answers, for hope, for the memory of the boy he raised, for the mistakes he must have made, for the reason everything came to this. Where is Jake? What happened in those final moments? Is it possible he doesn't really know his son? Or he knows him better than he thought? Jake could not have done this--or could he?

As rumors begin to ricochet, amplified by an invasive media, Simon must find answers. But there is only one way to understand what has happened . . . he must find Jake.

A story of faith and conviction, strength and courage, love and doubt that is harrowing and heartbreaking, surprisingly healing and redemptive, Finding Jake asks us to consider how well we know ourselves . . . and those we love.

  • ISBN-13: 9780062339485
  • ISBN-10: 0062339486
  • Publisher: William Morrow & Company
  • Publish Date: February 2015
  • Page Count: 272

Related Categories

Books > Fiction > Thrillers - Suspense
Books > Fiction > Thrillers - Psychological
Books > Fiction > Family Life

Publishers Weekly Reviews

Publishers Weekly® Reviews

  • Reviewed in: Publishers Weekly, page .
  • Review Date: 2014-12-08
  • Reviewer: Staff

Early in Reardon’s moving, if at times maudlin first novel, Simon Connolly receives word of a shooting at the suburban Delaware high school attended by his two children. But worse news awaits: the police suspect his missing 17-year-old son, Jake, of being one of the gunmen. As Simon and wife Rachel, a workaholic corporate attorney, try to push aside the strains in their marriage to confront the unimaginable as a family, he can’t help revisiting key moments in his son’s life. Simon obsesses over what role his social awkwardness and his decision to be a stay-at-home dad might have played in the tragedy. Could he really have been so grievously wrong about what kind of boy he was raising? Although some of Simon’s memories turn teary, Reardon (Ready, Set, Play!, a sports book with retired NFL player Mark Schlereth) deftly builds suspense by setting his dual story lines on a collision course toward a shattering—and surprising—conclusion. Agent: Stephanie Rostan, Levine Greenberg Literary Agency. (Feb.)

BookPage Reviews

Whodunit: To the depths of a parent's worst nightmare

Bryan Reardon’s fiction debut, Finding Jake, pushes all the right buttons: a timely, ripped-from-the-headlines premise; grab-you-by-the-collar pacing; and a cast of troubled, finely drawn and sympathetic characters. We have all watched raw news footage of horrifying events like this too many times in recent years: a mass murder at a Pennsylvania high school, with one alleged gunman dead by his own hand and the other, Jake Connolly, missing. Stay-at-home dad Simon Connolly cannot believe his son capable of the acts attributed to him by the media and the parents of the slain students, but the evidence is damning: Jake’s “loner” demeanor; violent texts found in his cell phone archive; and worst of all, his blood spatter found at the scene of the carnage. The police appear not the slightest bit interested in finding a “missing teenager”—they want to “apprehend the suspect”—so Simon launches his own search for Jake, hoping against hope that his knowledge of his son will lead him to the boy before the police can run him to ground. Simon recounts this story in the first person, cutting from Jake’s infancy to the modern day, ratcheting up the tension with each successive chapter. This is an uncommon retelling of an all-too-common contemporary American story.

The year 1950 marked the release of a film noir classic, D.O.A., the strange tale told in flashback of a man investigating his own soon-to-be-fatal poisoning by a “luminous toxin” for which there is no antidote. Olen Steinhauer’s modern-day espionage novel, All the Old Knives, offers an equally noir story set almost entirely at a trendy bistro in Carmel-by-the-Sea, California, where two ex-spies/ex-lovers play a lethal game of cat-and-mouse over hors d’oeuvres and Chardonnay. At issue is the botched handling of an airliner hijacking six years before—and a few loose ends that could expose the truth behind the narrative that has been tacitly accepted over the years. At least one of the dining pair has some guilty knowledge—perhaps complicity—of the fallout of the hijacking, which resulted in the deaths of 120-odd passengers and crewmembers. Steinhauer displays an affinity for espionage, closed-room suspense and plot twists, placing him definitively in the first rank of modern mystery writers.

The latest installment of James Carlos Blake’s acclaimed Wolfe Family saga, The House of Wolfe, finds narrator Rudy Wolfe and several members of his outlaw family headed south of the border to rescue a kidnapped cousin, held for ransom along with 10 members of a Mexican high-society wedding party. There are no “good guys” here, although there are some that the reader will root for over others. The bad guys, on the other hand, are truly bad, including an unscrupulous financier with his hand in every illegal pie to be found in Mexico City, and a truly poisonous interrogator whose fiendish imagination is matched only by his sociopathic tendencies (this fellow, it should be mentioned, is in the employ of the protagonists). Blake’s literary suspense novels are firmly rooted in the hard-edged, morally ambiguous tradition established by Elmore Leonard, James Crumley and James Ellroy. Fast-paced, atmospheric, violent and relentlessly cinematic, The House of Wolfe is not to be missed.

A handful of contemporary espionage writers can be counted on to deliver complex and unerringly atmospheric historical suspense novels each time they put pen to paper. Philip Kerr, David Downing and Alan Furst jump to mind, but no such list would be complete without Joseph Kanon, whose Leaving Berlin weaves together a pair of seemingly unconnected but pivotal events of the early post-WWII era: the Berlin airlift of 1948-1949 and the Communist witch hunts of the McCarthy era. The glue that binds these events is Jewish writer Alex Meier, who escaped from the Nazis to find asylum in the U.S., only to have the rug pulled out from under him thanks to his Communist leanings in his youth. He manages to broker an eleventh-hour deal to go back to his native Berlin in the employ of the U.S. intelligence service. If he is successful in his espionage efforts, his past will be conveniently expunged, and he will be allowed to remain in the States. As you might imagine with a first-rate spy novel, that will turn out to be a big if, and there is a fair bit of double-crossing (with the inevitable bloodshed in its wake). Interestingly, Kanon introduces real-life characters in the book, such as poet/playwright Bertolt “Bert” Brecht, although Kanon offers the disclaimer that these characters “appear only as I imagine them to have been.” If one were to ask fans today which book Kanon is best known for, the answer would have to be 2001’s The Good German. Pose that same question a year from now, and the answer will be Leaving Berlin.


This article was originally published in the March 2015 issue of BookPage. Download the entire issue for the Kindle or Nook.

BAM Customer Reviews