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The Gatekeeper (A Kelly Jones Novel) Mass Market Paperback – October 20, 2009

4.6 out of 5 stars 10 customer reviews
Book 3 of 4 in the Kelly Jones Series

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Intrusion: A Novel
A loving couple, grieving the loss of their son, finds their marriage in free fall when a beautiful, long-lost acquaintance inserts herself into their lives. Learn More
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Editorial Reviews

About the Author

Michelle Gagnon has worked as a bartender, dog walker, Russian supper club performer, model, personal trainer, and writer. She lives in San Francisco.

Excerpt. © Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved.



Madison Grant leaned over the sink, careful not to get her jeans wet as she applied another coat of gloss. She rubbed her lips together, smacked them once, then dabbed the excess with her fingertip. She examined the resulting pink sheen critically—perfect. Stepping back, she tossed the wand into her purse. It was actually her sister's knockoff Fendi. Bree would totally flip when she realized it was gone. Hopefully that would distract her from checking for other things that had gone missing, like her driver's license and social security card. Of course by that time the shit would have hit the fan anyway. Their mom would be so freaked out that Bree's complaints about a stolen purse would fall on deaf ears. At least that's what Madison was hoping.

She shrugged on the purse and grabbed the handle of her carry-on. It was their fault for basically ignoring her. Ever since the divorce, Dad was only a voice on the phone, and Mom spent most of the day in her room, shades drawn. And Bree was so busy with her friends, she barely bothered to talk to Madison. No, the only person who really cared about her now was Shane.

Madison flushed at the thought of him. They'd only known each other a few weeks, but she could already tell this was it, her one true love. They'd met online and instantly hit it off. She lived for the sweet texts he sent while she sat in class, bored out of her skull. They had these long, intense IM sessions where they talked about everything: what they wanted to be when they grew up, what their families were like. He was the only person Madison had confided in about how shitty things had gotten since the divorce, how awful it was to be dumped in a new city across the country, how she hated school and everyone in it.

Shane was older, nineteen, in his first year of college at San Francisco State. But he said the age difference didn't matter since girls were more mature, and he was totally right. Madison was a lot older than sixteen in her mind. And with Bree's license and social security card, she could get a job. Shane had offered to let her crash with him for as long as she needed to. He hinted that since they'd be spending the rest of their lives together anyway, they might as well get started. When he sent the plane ticket she got so excited, dancing around her bedroom. Then she swiped some of the cash her mom hid around the house and lied about staying with a friend for the weekend. That gave her a few days before they'd realize she was missing. And now she had finally arrived.

It was hard to believe she was about to meet Shane in person. It was going to be perfect, just like in the movies. They'd kiss, he'd look into her eyes and tell her he loved her. She'd work at a cool café in the city while he finished school. Maybe she'd take some classes herself, then eventually they'd get married. They'd have two kids, a boy named Max and a girl named Penelope. Someday she might even call her parents to tell them what a great job she'd done with her life. They'd forgive her for leaving, and everything would turn out the way it should have been all along.

On the other side of the security gate, a guy wearing a cap held a sign that read GRANT. Madison's jaw almost dropped. Shane must have some serious cash—first the plane ticket, now a limo? Maybe his family was rich. He was probably keeping it a secret to see if she liked him for who he was, like in that movie where the prince pretended to be a normal guy. Which was silly, she'd love Shane even if he was totally poor. But she had to admit, the thought of living in a huge house was definitely appealing. Better yet she might not have to get a job, she could just hang out all day. Madison repressed a giggle, trying to look serious and adult as she approached the driver.

"Hi. Are you here for me?"

The chauffeur eyed her, and she drew herself up to her full five-seven. "Madison Grant?"

"Yeah. I mean, yes, that's me."

The chauffeur motioned for her bag. She followed him to a Lincoln Town Car. He popped the trunk, tucked the suitcase inside, then opened the passenger door. Madison climbed in, impressed by the plush surroundings. There was even a bottle of sparkling water in the cup caddy. She unscrewed the cap and took a swig, then belted herself in. The car eased into the steady stream of traffic leaving the terminal, and Madison settled back against the seat.

"You know where we're going, right?" she asked after a minute.

The driver didn't turn his head, just nodded.

Madison was self-conscious. She'd never been in a limo before, but thought there was supposed to be one of those panels between them. Without one, she felt obligated to make small talk.

"So where are you from?" She asked after a short pause.

The driver didn't respond, and she figured his English wasn't very good. He looked Russian, at least around the eyes. Madison sipped more of the water. It had a funny metallic aftertaste, probably because it was from France. Her eyelids drooped. The flight had only been six hours, but she'd spent the whole time amped up in what Dad called her "condensed matter" state. It wouldn't hurt to take a little nap, she decided. After all, she didn't want to be sleepy the first time she met Shane.

When she awoke it was dark. Madison felt drowsy, disoriented. She wasn't in the car anymore, and wondered if they'd arrived and the driver hadn't bothered waking her. If she had been asleep when Shane first saw her that would be totally embarrassing, she realized, mortification jolting her from a stupor. She was on some sort of bed, there was a rough blanket beneath her. Was she in his dorm room? She stood and felt her way across. It was pitch-black, cold, and she shivered in her light sweater. Shane had warned her to pack layers, but she'd wanted to look cute so she'd kept her fleece jacket in her suitcase. She groped until she reached the wall. It was freezing and felt like metal. She rapped on it once, tentatively, then worked her way along it to a door. There was a handle but it was huge, also metal, and didn't respond to her tugs. Madison bit her lower lip, experiencing a tremor of fear. Something was seriously wrong.

"Shane?" She called out hesitantly. Her voice sounded squeaky. She tried to inject more assurance as she repeated, "Hey, Shane, are you out there? I think I'm stuck!"

There was no response. Madison felt a tear trickle down her face, followed quickly by another. As she slid to the floor and clasped her knees to her chest, she began sobbing in earnest. She was all alone, and no one even knew she was missing.

JUNE 28

Jake Riley leaned back in his chair, crossing his feet on top of his new desk. It was solid oak, and according to the antiques dealer had once belonged to George Stein-brenner. Even if that was bullshit, it was a nice desk, he decided. And the Steinbrenner story would probably impress potential clients.

His office was still filled with boxes. It had taken longer than expected to find a suitable space, commercial rents in New York were through the roof. Even with the exorbitant severance package from Jake's previous employer, the new company would have to secure some contracts soon. But they'd made the right choice, he thought, gazing through the floor to ceiling windows. After searching the entire borough for an office with room to expand, they'd finally settled in one of the new skyscrapers jutting up around Columbus Circle. Central Park was across the street, and Jake was looking forward to eating lunch there, maybe strapping on his running shoes for a jog on slow days. Although hopefully there wouldn't be many of those.

He ignored the needling voice that questioned the decision to branch out on his own. Sure, Dmitri Christou had paid him well, but for the first time in his life he was his own boss. And hell, they'd be doing good work along the way. They'd decided to name the company The Longhorn Group, a nod to the fact that both he and his partner originally hailed from Texas. If Jake had his say, The Longhorn Group would quickly become the go-to company for K&R insurers.

K&R was shorthand for "Kidnap and Ransom." In recent years there had been a sharp uptick in the number of kidnappings of American executives abroad, some figures estimated as high as twenty percent. To secure the release of abducted employees, many companies hired private firms to either negotiate with kidnappers or, failing that, attempt a rescue. South American countries, particularly Colombia, were the most notorious for kidnappings, but plenty took place stateside. They just weren't widely publicized, since no corporation wanted to put ideas in someone's head. And despite the increased number of companies signing on for K&R insurance, most operatives trained in negotiation and recovery were busy working security details in the Middle East. Jake was hoping The Longhorn Group would fill that void.

Eventually Kelly might come on board, and they'd be able to work together again. It was a nice thought. Jake picked up the sole item on his desk, a framed photo of her, and gazed at it. It showed her in profile, sitting on a beach, red hair reflecting the setting sun. She always griped about the angle, but then she hated every photo of herself. He thought it captured a side of her that was usually hidden—there was a vulnerability in the way she held her knees that always got him. He set the picture back on the desk. They were officially engaged now, had been for months, but hadn't set a date.

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Product Details

  • Series: A Kelly Jones Novel (Book 3)
  • Mass Market Paperback: 409 pages
  • Publisher: MIRA; Original edition (October 20, 2009)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0778326721
  • ISBN-13: 978-0778326724
  • Product Dimensions: 4.2 x 0.9 x 6.6 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 9.1 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (10 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #2,150,478 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By Danie on January 5, 2010
Format: Mass Market Paperback
This is a thriller in the greatest sense of the word.

Gagnon goes back and forth between two main stories. Jake Riley who's on his first case with his newly created private security firm and Kelly who's in Arizona trying to solve the murder of an Arizona Senator.

I was a little sad that there weren't more scenes that had Jake and Kelly in the same place, as in the previous two books some of my favorite scene were between those two characters, but still, the book was strongly written and tightly and awesomely plotted.

Of course, the scariest part of the book wasn't what happened on the page, but with everything going on in the world, how close we are to the sort of things that happened in this fictional book happening in our real world.

As long as you're not looking for a fuzzy soft cozy with a older lady solving a caper, this book isn't for you, but otherwise, action, twists, intrigue and just a really great read, go, stop reading this review and definitely read this book.
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By Tina on December 20, 2009
Format: Mass Market Paperback
The Gatekeeper was a very, very pleasant surprise.

I have gone off the thriller genre over the last few years, but occasionally, I am lucky enough to pick up a book that makes me remember why I use to read them so avidly.

The Gatekeeper features a likeable heroine in the character of Kelly Jones - she is both bright and interesting and what I love is that at no time is she portrayed as a helpless female. She is a strong female lead. I also liked Madison Grant who, in the beginning of the book is kind of a stupid young adult, but as the storyline progresses, she, herself grows progressively as a character and becomes a force of her own.

This story is about abduction, ransom and terrorists all mixed together and it works. From the first few pages, I was instantly hooked. I honestly could not put all the pieces together until the very end - which is something I love when I pick up a thriller.

I also found myself NOT wanting to put the book down -"just one more page"....also a great sign of a great book in my opinion.

This one is worth reading.
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The Gatekeeper opens with Madison Grant, a 16-year-old girl who's met a man on the Internet, who she's flying out to meet. Before she knows it, she's been kidnapped and is being held prisoner. So her dad, Randall, calls up an old friend, Syd, who's just opened a new company called The Longhorn Group, which deals with kidnap and ransom. Syd's partner, Jake, gets started on trying to locate Madison and extricate her before the kidnappers kill her.

Meanwhile, Jake's fiance, Kelly, who works for the FBI, has been assigned a case that involves the brutal murder of a senator. HER case takes her to all these hate groups, and eventually Jake and Kelly find that their cases might be connected.

This book was exactly what I wanted. It had the perfect amount of setup (read: not the whole book) with more scenes that left my heart racing than I could have hoped for. I loved that at least three times I double checked the page count because she was wrapping up things I didn't expect to be wrapped up until the end of the book.

I'm oftentimes put off by love stories within mysteries. If I wanted a love story, I'd read another kind of book. But Kelly and Jake's relationship is so real, and just when I was like, Oh, I see where she's going with this, Gagnon surprised me. Gagnon really has a knack for characters, and I'd like to see future books feature Syd, and delve more into Syd's motivations and intentions.

My only squabble with this book was that the person who calls himself "the gatekeeper" was never actually called "the gatekeeper". It's possible I missed the reference, though.

I know this is silly, but I loved her Author's Note at the end. Having a great author's note is like finding one more M&M in a bag of M&Ms that you thought was empty. It's like, "Oh!
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The kidnapping of sixteen year old Madison Grant draws Special Agent Kelly Jones's fiance Jack Riley into a case tied to an unthinkable terrorist plot with an unthinkable ransom, a ransom that demands a father choose between his daughter and his country. Meanwhile, the FBI assigns Kelly to the case of the murder and dismemberment of a senator. As Kelly tracks down the clues to this crime, she investigates the fanatical fringes of American society who might resort to murder rather than the political process to achieve their goals. More terrifying than any one fanatical group itself, she unveils the mysterious figure of The Gatekeeper, an anonymous but powerful force uniting the hate groups towards one common goal in one of the worst domestic terrorist attacks on American soil. At first, the two cases seem disconnected but could they be related? Will Jack and Kelly uncover the culprit and the plot before it is too late or will the case lead them into perils from which they might never recover?

Michelle Gagnon's new thriller THE GATEKEEPER chills the reader with an all too plausible scenario of the enemy within now united, of a blind patriotism turned so fanatical that it will stop at nothing to achieve its goals, a goal even more horrifying than the means itself. Seemingly isolated events become more ominous as the links between them are uncovered, but even more terrifying is the twisted mind manipulating these fringe groups. The kidnapping plot itself magnifies the horror of the plan as Michelle Gagnon turns her vision from the broader look at hate politics to the dilemma and emotions faced by Madison's father. By detailing these human moments, Michelle Gagnon unmasks the twistedness of political obsession, an obsession that seeks to destroy what it claims to value.
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