By Gregory Kirschling
Updated January 17, 2005 at 05:00 AM EST

One of the best kidnapping thrillers is Ed McBain’s 1959 King’s Ransom, about kid snatchers who try to shake down a bigwig but accidentally abduct his chauffeur’s son instead. It even inspired Akira Kurosawa’s 1963 film High and Low. Alice in Jeopardy is a kidnapping tale too, but not one of McBain’s best. Months after her husband disappears at sea, a Florida soccer mom’s two kids are grabbed, with a demand for $250,000. McBain’s hard-nails but breezy voice is again the main draw, but the guessable mystery is, like a ransom note, pasted together from cutouts of better thrillers.