Cover image for The first victim
The first victim
Pearson, Ridley.
Personal Author:
First edition.
Publication Information:
New York : Hyperion, 1999.
Physical Description:
381 pages ; 25 cm
Reading Level:
890 Lexile.
Program Information:
Reading Counts RC High School 5.9 20 Quiz: 19263 Guided reading level: NR.
Geographic Term:
Format :


Call Number
Material Type
Home Location
Item Holds
X Adult Fiction Central Closed Stacks
X Adult Fiction Open Shelf
X Adult Fiction Mystery/Suspense

On Order



A shipping container washed ashore leads Seattle television news anchor Stevie McNeal and reporter friend Melissa on the trail of a scare involving the importation of illegal aliens. A career stepping-stone for McNeal, the investigation puts her at cross-purposes with the Seattle Police Department's Lou Boldt and Sergeant John LaMoia. When Melissa disappears, perhaps at the hands of the Chinese Triad, McNeal turns from foe to ally and teams up with the detectives on an investigation that takes them from Seattle's docklands to the offices of the INS.

Author Notes

Ridley Pearson was born in Glen Cove, New York on March 13, 1953. He was educated at Kansas University and Brown University. In the early 1970s, he was a musician and songwriter for a rock band, eventually writing more than 300 songs and the score for an award-winning documentary.

Having honed his craft writing scripts for television shows such as Columbo and Quincy, he turned to writing and published his first novel, Never Look Back, in 1985. His novels include The Angel Maker, No Witnesses, and Beyond Recognition. He has also published many children's books including The Kingdom Keepers series and a series of prequels to Peter Pan written with Dave Barry. His book Peter and the Starcatchers, written with Dave Barry, was adapted into a Broadway play that won 5 Tony Awards. He received the Raymond Chandler Fulbright Fellowship at Oxford University in 1990 and the Missouri Writer Hall of Fame Quill Award Winner in 2013.

(Bowker Author Biography)

Reviews 3

Booklist Review

Pearson's Lou Boldt series continues to meld the small-scale, detail-driven precision of the best procedurals with the large-canvas, screw-tightening suspense of such high-concept thrillers as Silence of the Lambs. This time, recently promoted Seattle Police Lieutenant Boldt finds himself confined to a desk while his protege, Sergeant John LaMoia, does the fieldwork. It doesn't sit well with Boldt, who, in spite of himself, craves the "dead bodies, if only because they kept his mind alive, his imagination active, and his raison d'etre intact." There are plenty of bodies to go around when a shipping container washes ashore full of Chinese immigrants, both dead and dying. An investigative reporter covering the case soon disappears, adding kidnapping to Boldt's plate and hurtling the lieutenant out of his chair and back into action, protocol notwithstanding. The trail is as multifaceted as ever, beginning with establishing time of death by studying the algae adhered to the shipping container, and ending with the discovery of a Chinese sweatshop in a confiscated freighter on Seattle's waterfront. Boldt's usual partner, forensic psychologist Daphne Matthews, plays a lesser role this time, but in her place Pearson substitutes television news anchor Stevie McNeal, who mounts her own investigation, thus introducing a meaty subplot involving media excesses. As always, Pearson builds suspense incrementally, brilliantly amassing details until his plot reaches critical mass at just the right moment. Several Boldt adventures ago, we rashly labeled Pearson "the best thriller writer alive"; time has done nothing to tarnish the accuracy of that claim. --Bill Ott

Publisher's Weekly Review

Impeccably paced, beautifully observed and moving with a crescendo of suspense, this is another thoughtful and exciting Seattle-based police thriller from Pearson (The Pied Piper), whose skill at maintaining a balance between the narrative thrust of his plot and the personal lives of his characters makes him a top-notch practitioner of the genre. We learn just enough about Lt. Lou Boldt's current situation to realize that his recent promotion has had mixed benefits: he misses street work and bends the rules to get out from behind his desk. We also discover that his wife Liz's apparent remission from cancer has created some domestic tensionÄshe credits her good results to faith; he can't quite make the same leapÄand that financial pressure caused by the loss of her income has made him think about leaving the police force. We acquire this information gradually, as naturally as we would in real life, while being swept along through a heartbreaking narrative that involves illegal Chinese immigrant women being smuggled into Seattle in cargo containers. The story becomes a crusade for two sharp and ambitious female journalistsÄlocal TV superstar Stevie McNeal and Melissa Chow, the young Chinese woman McNeal's father adopted, and whom Stevie calls "Little Sister." Lieutenant Boldt and his unusually well-defined team become involved when Melissa goes underground as an illegal and then disappears. Bodies of several Chinese women are found in a public graveyard, the "first victims" of a particularly vicious gang of smugglers. As one of Boldt's colleagues explains to McNeal, "The first victim is generally the one that is handled carelessly." Like all of Pearson's insights into the minds of criminals, cops and citizens, this one is strong, subtle and full of resonance. Atmospheric descriptions of Seattle and some fascinating forensic evidence add texture to a riveting story. $250,000 ad/promo. (July) FYI: The mass market edition of The Pied Piper, released simultaneously, will carry a teaser chapter from The First Victim. (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved

Library Journal Review

When TV anchor Stevie McNeal investigates evidence that illegal aliens are being smuggled into the United States via Seattle, she ends up at cross purposes with Pearson regular Lou Boldt of the Seattle Police. (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.