Book Review: Flesh: The Disappearance Of Portia Barrington
Publication Date: Dec 17, 2010
List Price: $14.95
Format: Paperback, 282 pages
Imprint: Dare To Imagine Books
Publisher: Dare To Imagine Books
Parent Company: Dare To Imagine Books
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Book Reviewed by Robert Fleming
As the author of over a dozen novels including the bestselling Little Girl Lost series, Keith Lee Johnson has created his most accomplished story yet. It’s a complicated, twisty kidnapping caper, similar to crime master Ed McBain’s King’s Ransom and Japanese film legend Akira Kurosawa’s 1963 High And Low. Commanded by the President of the U.S., FBI agents Phoenix Perry and Kelly McPherson join with the Child Abduction Rapid Deployment (CARD) team to find the daughter of a prominent white attorney, Myles Barrington.
Portia, his fifteen-year-old daughter, is gone, along with her Black bodyguard. Her daddy pays the ransom, not once but three times, and wonders why his girl has not released. As one character wonders aloud: “If you were a kidnapper, would you ask for more than one ransom? I mean, why not ask for all at once and minimize the risk?” Is the whole thing a hoax? Johnson turns up the heat and suspense as everyone is a suspect.
As the investigation delves deeper into the facts, revelations about the Barrington family pour out, when Portia is revealed to be a lusty teenaged Lolita, who has been caught having sex with older boys in the house. Further probing uncovers the teen is addicted to porn in both print and online. Then there is the Jaguar Club, an outfit organized by Portia to collect cash from older men for the sexual services of her young girl friends. Who is this girl? What kind of perverted people is she hanging with? The kidnappers play a cruel, agonizing cat-and-mouse game, tormenting the parents and the agents.
Here and there are deeply etched Kodak moments by Johnson, vivid and raw: “She was big everywhere she looked. Her breasts were large and stretched down to just above her stomach. Her mouth fell open when Molly stepped out of her panties and she saw how hairy her privates were. It looked like an animal had taken refuge between Molly’s legs.” (pg. 252)
Notwithstanding some editing miscues, Johnson juggles several balls deftly in order to keep up the tension, moving through a myriad of inter-connected plots to reach a totally surprising conclusion. His novel, Flesh, is a powerfully seductive yarn full of erotic fantasies, carnal obsession, sexual secrets, emotional betrayal, and downright deviance. Each page carries a wallop as the author intended it to be. His readers will clamor for a sequel and rightfully so.