Stolen Things, R.H. Herron’s debut thriller, begins with a rape, a murder and a missing girl. The rape takes place at a gathering of citizens protesting police brutality at a famous football player’s house outside San Francisco. Laurie, an ex-cop who is now a 911 dispatcher, and Omid, her police chief husband, spring into action when they hear that the rape victim is their daughter, Jojo. At the site, Omid has a heart attack, so Laurie is left caring for him and her distraught daughter, as well as facing demons from her past. But to Jojo, the pressing issue is her missing best friend, Harper.
If Laurie calls dispatching “two parts boredom to two parts adrenalin,” then Stolen Things is two parts adrenaline to one part boredom. It combines scenes of everyday family life with riveting encounters between those involved in the crime. The storytelling is as smooth as a veteran ER nurse guiding a victim through trauma. Herron inconspicuously toggles between Laurie’s and Jojo’s perspectives for a seamless account of moment-by-moment action. These two heroines are multifaceted—fun-loving and vivacious as well as deadly serious and efficient.
The book confronts a slew of today’s issues—such as police brutality against black people, #MeToo, institutional scandal and sexual orientation—with pathos and conviction. Chapters are short, emotional bursts of energy that fuel the quest for answers. Each side is given credence and receives critique.
Faint-hearted readers beware; rooted in real events, the tale is graphic at times. The anger is palpable, and so is the love between a mother and daughter willing to fight for each other’s lives.
Jojo and Harper steal jewelry as a prank in high school, but what is stolen from them is much more heinous. Stolen Things explores the lengths we go to recover what is lost.