The Donation Man: Judy Snider
The phone rings but you are not focused on the call. You are tired and have a headache and when the person on the other end of the phone demands that you give a donation to his cause or organization how dare you say NO! Requesting that the person call back the next year and that she did not intend on donating any money, nor did she ask what the organization was that he was representing, Reggie managed to disconnect the call but this person would not give up. Recalling several times and then stating he would call back the next day she blew it off and went to work but not before the calling gave her what appeared to sound like a veiled threat: “We all have to give in life, and if we don’t it always comes back to haunt us.” The man on the phone did not know that her boyfriend was a cop and had connections on the force. Reggie now lived in New Orleans and was working on a documentary being done on the city including the history, food, Katrina and more. She was committed for six months on this assignment with three more to go.
Focusing on the interviews for the day with many top chefs she put the call in the back of her mind, met with her photographer, Jane and found herself in the French Quarter and while working filled her in about the call. Telling Jane she told him not to call her anymore she never realized that this person would be persistent, insistent and relentless. Ten dollars is what he put her down for but his motive and his phone calls would give her chills, put fear in her heart and her need to possibly request help from more than just her friends.
Sam is her boyfriend who is not thrilled with her assignment and their long distance relationship and her parents would love her to come back home. Telling him about the calls made her fell getter but the tone of this guys voice was creepy. So, why does she wake up screaming at night causing her neighbor and good friend Annie to knock on her door? What frightened her?
On her way out to do more filming the phone rings and once again the man she calls The Donation Man is on the phone asking for money. All the excuses, all the ranting and raving and asking for his supervisor does not stop this person from demanding money, making sure she would lose in the end and then hanging up promising to call again. Reggie is spooked but does not think to change her number nor will she allow him to think she’s afraid after dealing with another killer called The Bomber the previous year.
Every time he calls his tone changes, the threats are becoming more pronounced and Reggie focuses on feeding Lucy her cat, dealing with Mardi Gras World the lack of air conditioning in her complex out of nowhere. Did this man do something to the units where she lived and the landlord would let in the repairman but would it be him or someone else? Stuart is her boss and she knows what he wants and manages to film exactly what is needed in every shoot. The author shares his background and lets readers know that he is a great boss and everyone working for him does not mind the long hours. Reggie was loyal to Sam and lucky for her. Something else happens and Sam becomes worried about Reggie being alone and wants to fly to her rescue but tells him she will be okay for now. But, The Donation Man calls and demanding to speak to his supervisor he places someone one the phone, uses some type of voice enhancer or changer and ends the call by letting her know it was him all the time. Calling Sam again and reminding her that she is still haunted by the shot by the BOMBER, and telling her that sometimes organizations that want donations have scripted speeches to give potential donors but this guy never tells what the organization is that he is asking for donations.
Reggie is about to find out just how dangerous this man is when she is pushed, stuck in the back with something and then threatened over and over again on the phone. Speaking to her parents and not wanting to alarm them she does not tell them about the calls. Jane and Reggie forge ahead with their interview but somehow she falls and skins her knee not realizing that she is his prime target all the time and he is stalking her and knows more about her than she realizes and his manner of handling his victims is ingenious and created by the author to promote fear, anxiety and remind everyone never to give out personal information over the phone to someone you are not sure of and beware when asking for donations make sure it is reputable asking for their contact information, where they are located and where you can donate online and not allowing them to mail you any packets.
Stuart her boss meet Annie her neighbor when he drives her home in order to make sure she is safe. Sometimes bad situations can turn into something positive as they become more involved in a relationship that they are going to take slow. But, things escalate with this caller and he threatens her friends and Annie has to move in with Stuart until they get the all clear that this person is in custody. The police take her report when things get to a dangerous point but when Sam learns from Jane what is happening he shows up at her door and takes matters into his capable hands and reaches out to the police.
The Donation Man is relentless and knows her every move and when Sam and several officers plan sting things do not turn out the way they planned as Reggie meets up with this man and finds herself his captive. Planning his escape and kidnapping her claiming that he has Annie as a ruse to making sure she complies with his wishes, Reggie finds herself without any means of communication and locked away in a room, which she cannot open. Fear, terror, revenge in her mind and refusing to make herself a victim, Reggie has to devise a plan to survive but will she and will it work?
Author Judy Snider presents the issues of friendship, loyalty, understanding, fraud, lies, betrayals, bullying, donation fraud and a man who justifies his actions within his own mind and when you hear his voice as she places his thoughts in italics, you will learn just who and where those donations are going. Added in Reggie learns before being kidnapped that a young woman was murdered and the information she learns from the girl’s mother leads them to The Donation Man. Reggie and Sam are two interesting characters that seem right for each other and each one having his/her own strong points. Annie and Stuart well let’s hope the author brings them back along with Jane because who knows what other trouble these can get into as author Judy Snider pens their next mystery.
The ending will keep you on the edge of your seat and the final conclusion will surprise you. The next time the phone rings and someone asks for money make sure that it’s not THE DONATION MAN!
Fran Lewis: Just reviews/MJ magazine