Picks and Pans Review: City of the Sun

updated 03/24/2008 AT 01:00 AM EDT

originally published 03/24/2008 AT 01:00 AM EDT

by David Levien |

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REVIEWED BY ANDREW ABRAHAMS

NOVEL

A quaint suburban tableau—a boy pedaling his bicycle at dawn on his paper route outside Indianapolis—is shattered when Jamie Gabriel, 12, disappears at the hands of two local lowlifes. His parents enlist the help of Frank Behr, a hard-bitten ex-cop turned private eye whose own child died at age 7 in a gun accident, and the two fathers bond as they untangle a sordid web of child trafficking in search of Jamie. Levien, a cowriter of the Ocean's Thirteen screenplay, keeps the pace crisp even as he infuses his gumshoe tale with heart-wrenching emotion—like the pain and regret that threaten to drive Jamie's parents apart. The grisly ending feels less authentic than everything before it, but getting there is an exhilarating journey of hope amid unimaginable despair.

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