RESCUE begins when Cuddy stops to help a young woman change a tire, and the little boy traveling with her asks Cuddy to find him should he get lost. This request reminds Cuddy of a promise in Vietnam he made and did not keep, and of the death of the young man who had trusted him there. Therefore, when the woman turns up dead and the boy is missing, Cuddy undertakes to find him. His first investigations bring him to a small town in New Hampshire, where he finds out who the boy is and speaks with his cold, unloving parents. Because their son has a birthmark, they believe he is evil. They tell Cuddy that their son is safe at a Christian school, but details about this school are hard to find.
Cuddy next follows the clues far from his usual New England habitat to the Florida keys, where a fanatical religious group has its headquarters. Cuddy’s attempts to get information about the group leads to violent rebuffs. Only through dangerous initiatives is Cuddy able to close in on this group and find out about its horrifying practices. His attempt to rescue the boy from them are described vividly in an action-packed sequence.
RESCUE is more of a thriller than a traditional detective novel; other Cuddy novels have more puzzle and more suspense. Nevertheless, the character of Cuddy—tender-tough, something like Robert Parker’s Spenser but more haunted—is always appealing. The adventure narrative is brisk and eventful, with a high body count. Moreover, the details of the Florida keys and of life there are precise and accurate, enriching the narrative.