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Hocus Mass Market Paperback – Sep 1 2003


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Product Details

  • Mass Market Paperback: 464 pages
  • Publisher: Pocket Books; Reprint edition (Sept. 1 2003)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0743444531
  • ISBN-13: 978-0743444538
  • Product Dimensions: 10.6 x 2.5 x 17.1 cm
  • Shipping Weight: 227 g
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (2 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #589,825 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Product Description

From Amazon

Jan Burke's stories about a vulnerable and resourceful reporter at a Southern California newspaper called Las Piernas News Express all feature tense and thoughtful plots, writing that manages to be sharp and sardonic without calling attention to itself, and a dead honest picture of the world of small-market newspaper journalism. Her latest is no exception. When Kelly's homicide detective husband, Frank Harriman, gets a heroic write-up in her paper after arresting the apparent leader of a gang of murderous troublemakers that call themselves Hocus (in the sense of hoax, rather than magic), everybody at the paper and almost everybody at the cop shop thinks she's behind it. So when Frank disappears, and his blood is discovered in the trunk of his car, Irene doesn't get much help from the paper or the police. She has to track down the real secret of Hocus largely on her own--which she does in the completely credible and exciting manner we've come to expect. Burke's last book about about Kelly, Remember Me, Irene, is out in paperback, joining Dear Irene, Goodnight, Irene, and Sweet Dreams, Irene. --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.

From Publishers Weekly

In Sweet Dreams, Irene (1994), Southern California newspaper reporter Irene Kelly was abducted while pursuing a story. Burke again examines the pain suffered by kidnapping victims as Irene's police detective husband, Frank Harriman, is taken by Hocus, a terrorist group. The "takers," as hostage negotiator Thomas Cassidy calls them, are Bret Neukirk and Samuel Ryan. Twelve years earlier, when they were 10, they were kidnapped with?and witnessed the murders of?their fathers. Frank was the policeman who rescued and befriended them in the aftermath, when the boys suffered elective mutism?refusal to talk except to each other. They never revealed that a tall, white-haired cop assisted their kidnapper, Chris Powell, who was murdered shortly afterwards. Now Bret and Sam seek well-planned revenge by keeping Frank sedated on morphine until Irene goes to Bakersfield, where their fathers were killed, and discovers Powell's accomplice. Her investigation leads to three close friends of Frank's late father, who was also a policeman. Switching between past and present, Burke writes a well-paced mystery with a heartrending climax, but her strength is the sympathy and depth with which she describes how the trauma of abduction haunts the victims. Author tour.
Copyright 1998 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.

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Most helpful customer reviews

Format: Mass Market Paperback
Thus far, I've read three books by Jan Burke--Flight, Bones and Hocus. As a frequent mystery reader of authors like Deaver, Sandford and Cornwell, the thing that has impressed me most about these three books (and Ms. Burke) is that they are not only all good, engaging stories, but they are NOT all alike! It is SO common for mystery writers' books to start feeling like carbon copies of one another (to the point that you have trouble remembering if you've read a particular book), but I have not found this the case with Ms. Burke so far.
Hocus involves the kidnapping of Irene Kelly's husband, Frank. This kidnapping isn't about ransome or making some political statement...it has a VERY personal reason. As the kidnappers lead Irene in putting together the puzzle of her husband's capture, we learn more about the kidnappers themselves and how their history and Frank's are connected. This sets up not only the obvious emotional connection of a wife trying to find her husband before the kidnappers carry out their threats but also the connection of the kidnappers to Frank. As the sad layers of this mystery unfold, police negotiator Cassidy helps Irene understand the mind of the kidnappers. Her sharp reporter's mind and his understanding of the kidnappers' psychology pull them closer to unearthing Frank's location...but will it be in time?
While, like most any mystery novel, there is a little eye-rolling and suspension of disbelief involved, I found this a taut and engaging story with some great characters (loved the Cassidy character). Brought it home from work (where I was reading it on my lunch hour) when I got down to 50 pages since I couldn't wait until after the weekend to get to the end! :)
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By Fred Camfield on March 26 2004
Format: Mass Market Paperback
This is a fast paced novel. While the main action takes place in less than a week, there are flashbacks to earlier events related to a double murder in the past. Young men who have mental problems related to the past events form a group of urban terrorists. There actions at first seem like unconnected pranks until people start getting killed. When a police officer is kidnapped, and demands are made, their real purpose becomes evident.
While the story is a stand-alone plot, it continues with characters from previous novels, primarily news reporter Irene Kelly. Various information emerges about people's pasts. Some people have hidden problems that cause bad dreams.
The setting for the novel is somewhat before the present so, while there is electronic technology, technology is not quite up to 2004 standards (cell phones but no caller ID). One can wonder about a police officer and news reporter being able to afford a beachfront home in California, but perhaps it was purchased at some time in the distant past (or maybe they got incredibly lucky with investments).
Overall, a good cops and robbers type story involving police, news reporters, and deranged killers. There is a short epilogue to wrap up a few loose ends.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)

Amazon.com: 26 reviews
9 of 9 people found the following review helpful
Another Winner from Jan Burke June 26 2000
By Ms. Nancy F. Jones - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Mass Market Paperback
Almost every professional reviewer puts Jan Burke in a box with other female mystery writers. We see her compared with Grafton, Cornwell, and Paretsky, etc. Well, enough of that! This "female mystery writer" can go toe to toe with the boys anytime. She proves it again with "Hocus". As with most of her other novels, Burke again uses the theme of tragedies in the past impacting on lives in the present. In this book Irene Kelly's husband, Frank, is taken hostage by two young men he had rescued ten years ago. Their fathers had been killed and they had been left to die in an abandoned warehouse. They believe that a corrupt policeman was involved and are using Frank as a bargaining tool to obtain his name. Burke creates sympathy for the two villians. We feel real pity for them because she has shown us how they became the damaged creatures they are now. Frank and Irene are very likeable characters simply because they seem like normal people. They have a loving marriage, two great dogs and a 20lb cat, wonderful friends and neighbors, and jobs they go to every day. This series just keeps getting better and better. Burke deserves to be compared with Robert Parker, Dennis Lehane, and Robert Crais. She definitely can play with the big boys.
8 of 8 people found the following review helpful
Extremely different plot for a mystery! March 10 2001
By K. L Sadler - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Mass Market Paperback
I had not realized that I have read Burke before. This book made a much larger impact on me then the last book of hers that I read. I will definitely remember her name and look for her books when I go to read an intelligent mystery. This particular plot is so intricately woven and has little gems of insight into the writings of Bret Harte, California, and the psychological impact of trauma on children and speech as to make it a wonderful read. I always enjoy it when authors take the time to do research into the basis of their story and Burke did a great job in incorporating all the facets into a sensible whole.
Burke's protagonist is different in that not only does she work in a newspaper, but she is also married. I rarely come across American writers who have married protagonists...makes you wonder if they think married women cannot possibly have interesting lives. Burke shows that this is not true, and makes her characters believeable. A totally enjoyable read. Karen Sadler,
Science Education, University of Pittsburgh
7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
Nobody writes a mystery romance as well as Jan Burke March 19 1997
By A Customer - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Hardcover
Never let it be said that a good mystery book can not have a fulfilling and captivating romance at its core because HOCUS will prove them wrong. Irene Kelly has an argument with her husband, policeman Frank Harriman, thinking they will make up when they return from work. Only problem with that scenario is Frank never comes home. It soon becomes evident that he has been taken hostage by unknown people for inexplicable reasons. While Irene worries, something totally out of character for her, she receives a phone call from the kidnappers who have the injured officer in their custody.
..... The two men holding Frank captive were victims of a childhood trauma, eye witnesses to the slaughters of their fathers. As adults they finally expect to exact their own brand of justice on the man responsible for the carnage. They don't know who he is except that he was a policeman in the town where Frank grew up and went to work as a detective. It is Irene's task to find out his identity and bring him to them in exchange for her spouse's freedom. Irene subdues her own controlling nature, out of her deep abiding love for her husband, and allows herself to be at the beck and call of the kidnappers knowing that if she fails to obey their orders, she will lose the only man she ever loved.
..... Readers of romance, mystery, suspense and thrillers will want to get their hands on HOCUS as quickly as possible. It is a deeply satisfying emotional read yet intellectually stimulating, prodding, and provoking the audience into trying to guess what will happen next. Jan Burke is a brilliant writer, a gifted storyteller who can hold her own with any writer in the genre, including Cornwell, Crichton and Rosenberg. If ever a book deserves an award, this one does, not only because of its popular appeal but because of a masterful plot execution.

......Harriet Klausner
4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
One of my favorite lifetime books Feb. 7 1998
By A Customer - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Mass Market Paperback
Never let it be said that a good mystery book can not have a fulfilling and captivating romance at its core because HOCUS will prove them wrong. Irene Kelly has an argument with her husband, policeman Frank Harriman, thinking they will make up when they return from work. Only problem with that scenario is Frank never comes home. It soon becomes evident that he has been taken hostage by unknown people for inexplicable reasons. While Irene worries, something totally out of character for her, she receives a phone call from the kidnappers who have the injured officer in their custody.
The two men holding Frank captive were victims of a childhood trauma, eye witnesses to the slaughters of their fathers. As adults they finally expect to exact their own brand of justice on the man responsible for the carnage. They don't know who he is except that he was a policeman in the town where Frank grew up and went to work as a detective. It is Irene's task to find out his identity and bring him to them in exchange for her spouse's freedom. Irene subdues her own controlling nature, out of her deep abiding love for her husband, and allows herself to be at the beck and call of the kidnappers knowing that if she fails to obey their orders, she will lose the only man she ever loved.
Readers of romance, mystery, suspense and thrillers will want to get their hands on HOCUS as quickly as possible. It is a deeply satisfying emotional read yet intellectually stimulating, prodding, and provoking the audience into trying to guess what will happen next. Jan Burke is a brilliant writer, a gifted storyteller who can hold her own with any writer in the genre, including Cornwell, Crichton and Rosenberg. If ever a book deserves an award, this one does, not only because of its popular appeal but because of a masterful plot execution.
Harriet Klausner
3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
"Hocus has news. We know where to find you" Feb. 5 2005
By Sebastian Fernandez - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Mass Market Paperback
This is the first book in the Irene Kelly series that does not include the main character's first name in the title. I read an interview with the author in which she explains that it took a lot of courage to change that pattern, due to the fear of people not recognizing her books anymore. She should not have worried, since the quality is still there and the series has become even a bigger success. "Hocus" starts a series of books by Jan Burke that have a one-word title, creating a contrast between this succinct title and the excellent ability the author has for describing different scenes and setting up engaging dialogues.

Irene is a reporter for the Las Piernas News Express and is married to detective Frank Harriman. Since they met they have had a great relationship and they have only been married for a little while, but at the start of this novel things are rocky. Frank has just finished blowing a case wide open against two men that are supposed to be the ringleaders of a group named Hocus; a story has appeared in Irene's newspaper with information that should only be known by an insider. Even though Irene did not write the article, the department is putting pressure on Frank and blaming him for the leak. This in turn has created some strain in the couple, and to make matters worse there was the issue of an old girlfriend asking Frank to visit her.

When the action starts Irene has not heard from Frank all day and thinks he is blowing off some steam, but when not even Frank's partner, Pete, knows of Irene's husband whereabouts, things start to turn south. Is Frank in trouble? Is he alive? Besides these questions, Irene has to deal with the recent discovery of a troublesome secret on Frank's family. When she learns soon enough that Frank has been kidnapped by Hocus and that their demands are very peculiar, she has to embark in a dangerous and complex investigation to save her husband.

As has happened before, Burke delivers a high intensity thriller that does not lack an outstanding use of narration and three-dimensional characters. One of the important aspects for me in a mystery series is how well the author develops the characters from one book to the next, and I am happy to say that Jan Burke excels in this area. In "Hocus" we advance considerably in our knowledge of Frank's family and the relationship they have with Irene, and we also get a glimpse of several events from their past. The different aspects mentioned in this review make this book and the series overall a great choice if you are looking for a good mystery to plunge into.


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