James Siegel,
(Time Warner, 2005)

When a couple has tried to have a child for many years without success, what are they to do? Paul and Joanna Breidbart turn to their doctors but, when medical procedures fail to produce results, they consider adoption. Unfortunately, this could take years in the United States. In some countries, like Colombia, the process can be greatly sped up. And this is where James Siegel's Detour starts out. Paul and Joanna are on a flight to Bogota to adopt a daughter.

When I think of Colombia, I think of Robert Young Pelton's book The World's Most Dangerous Places. I think of FARC terrorists, drug running and kidnapping. National Geographic recently had an article about Medellin, one of the murder capitals of the world. The place is improving, so the article implies, but I don't think I'll be taking my next vacation there. When I think of Colombia, I also think of some awesome music, but I digress. The point is, I don't think of Colombia as a place where childless couples go to adopt needy children. The risks are simply too great.

Basically, I was a little lost when I started listening to the audiobook version of Detour. It starts out in such a positive light. The happy couple has completed all the requirements to acquire custody of their new baby. They have had positive interactions with the locals. Well, there was a brief incident where they thought their Colombian nanny had stolen the baby, but she had really just taken her to get a thermometer as the child seemed to have a fever. That was a little exciting, but now it looked like Paul and Joanna would head back to the U.S.A. with their daughter and maybe I would be listening to five CDs of how she grew up as a happy, well-adjusted child, saved by the white folk.

Having previously listened to Siegel's Derailed, I should have known that things weren't quite what they seemed. Before you know it, this innocent family is FARCed! (bad pun intended). If your wife/husband/significant other was being held captive under threat of death, would you become a mule and bring millions of dollars worth of cocaine into the U.S.? Until you are in this position, you will never know. Paul, who should be a contender on Fear Factor, is about to find out just how far he will go to get his family and life back.

Holter Graham, the actor known for films including Hairspray, Fly Away Home and Six Ways to Sunday, reads the abridged version of Detour. I enjoyed his reading style. Much of Detour is slow paced. Graham has a tranquil voice, at least for the Paul persona, from whose eyes most of the story evolves. Graham was convincing enough that at one point in the story when he was bouncing back and forth from Paul to his Jewish lawyer Miles to a high-pitched Colombian drug runner to a tough guy accent, I forgot there was only one reader.

James Siegel has a few other novels prior to Detour. He likes to throw his audience off with curves you probably won't see coming. I really liked this particular novel. There are a lot of disgusting scenes that really made me squeamish, but there were several spots that hit me emotionally. I had to keep reminding myself that this was a novel. Thrillers are meant to be fun! This isn't a documentary. But in some ways, it was very real. With the world the way it is, and people being people, I could picture much of this actually happening.

- Rambles
written by Wil Owen
published 24 September 2005

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