Book Review: ‘Helpless’ is deeply puzzling thriller
“Helpless” (Kensington), by Daniel Palmer
Wednesday, February 1, 2012
A divorced father with a teenage daughter finds himself plunged into a suburban nightmare in Daniel Palmer’s “Helpless.”
Tom Hawkins is a former Navy SEAL who is battling his ex-wife, Kelly, for visitation rights with his daughter, Jill, who wants nothing to do with him. He coaches soccer at the local high school, and Jill becomes one of the star players — though she would rather have someone else calling the shots. During a practice session, the police arrive and tell Tom that his ex-wife has been murdered. He immediately realizes that he’s the No. 1 suspect.
Tom’s nightmare has only begun: The police discover a blog detailing his secret love affair with one of the players on the soccer team. A search warrant uncovers tons of teen pictures, with several team members in provocative poses. Tom is arrested for distributing child pornography, and he has to find out how someone could frame him so completely — and why. Even the FBI’s forensic computer analysis team believes he’s guilty.
A man trying to be the best father he can be to his reluctant daughter now also has to prove his innocence. Trust plays a key role in the narrative of this compelling and deeply puzzling thriller. The end game is a bit complex, but the journey is worth the ride. Palmer has a gift with realistic characters — and a writing style that guarantees a sleepless night.