Sam and James

The Missing Teen

Young Adult - Thriller
226 Pages
Reviewed on 02/10/2019
Buy on Amazon

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Author Biography

AA Freda is an award winning author who writes about life experiences he's had or people he's met along the way.

His first novel, Goodbye Rudy Kazoody. A coming of age work about a group of teenagers growing up in a New York City neighborhood during the early 1960's was acclaimed by the critics.

His second piece A Police Action is another coming of age story about two confused young adults caught up during the free love and Vietnam era of the late 1960's.

His third novel, Spike:The Search for Redemption is the sequel to the award winning book, Goodbye, Rudy Kazoody.

Sam and James The Missing Teen is Freda's fourth novel and the sequel to A Police Action.

​Freda grew up in New York City and now resides in Easton, CT, a suburb of New York City that offers him a tranquil environment that allows him to keep his finger on the pulse of the city he loves so much. A graduate of Bernard Baruch College at the City University in New York, he has served as an adjunct professor at the Fashion Institute of Technology in NYC. Freda also served in Vietnam the subject matter of A Police Action. In addition to writing, in his spare time, Freda enjoys fishing, hiking, climbing and shooting pool.

    Book Review

Reviewed by Lesley Jones for Readers' Favorite

In Sam and James: The Missing Teen by AA Freda, as the granddaughter of wealthy tycoon Henry Greenwald takes her usual route home from school, little does she know she is being watched. On that fateful January afternoon in 1969, 14-year-old Penelope Campos is about to face her worse nightmare. The terrified schoolgirl is kidnapped and now her captors can execute their gruesome plan. Two months later, Vietnam vet James is travelling with fiancée Sam to start a new life in Colorado. His only plan for the future is to forget the nightmare memories of war, find a job and plan his wedding to Sam. Little does he realize that a chance encounter will bring him into contact with Greenwald and Penelope's disappearance. With a local man confessing to the kidnapping, the case is closed. James’ search for the truth takes him back into a war zone, only this time it is to find a missing child.

From the first paragraph, the author successfully set a sinister scene and hooked me into the story. The plot moved forward at an exciting pace and I read the entire book in one sitting. Freda introduced the amazing characters gradually, so I did not get lost in the story. Every character had an individual personality, from charming and witty James, to sassy and confident Sam, and their dialogue matched their personalities perfectly. All of the characters had personality flaws which made them entirely three-dimensional and believable. There were many scenes that were difficult to read because of the subject matter. However, the scenes were needed for the story to be authentic; this again must be attributed to the author's writing ability.

The conflicts and obstacles throughout kept my interest. There were many sub-plots which were as strong as the main story line. This story was not simply about the search for a missing schoolgirl, but building strong relationships, and facing moral dilemmas. The ending was gripping and, hopefully, there could be more investigations by James and Sam. If you love action, mystery and a novel that makes you think, then I highly recommend this one.

Jack Magnus

As he drove along the highways, James found himself pondering recent events and still marveling that he was actually traveling back home to Colorado with the woman he loved. He had made the painful decision to break up with her after his tour in Vietnam had ended, and he had done so by letter. For some reason, however, he had ended the letter with “Love,” and Sam had taken that to heart and tracked him down in New York. Now, they were going back to their home, and the future seemed bright and limitless. The couple had become engaged while in New York, and Sam was coming home with a ring on her finger. James had plans to go back to college and take advantage of the GI Bill, and Sam would continue working at the store.

James would soon get involved in an out-of-state mystery that had stumped the Albuquerque Police Department and enraged Henry Greenwald, a powerful and wealthy man. His granddaughter, Penelope Campos, had been abducted on her way home from school. The family had received no ransom notes -- it was as though the young teen had vanished into thin air. As the weeks and month wore on, the family seemed resigned to despair and an acceptance of her loss, but her grandfather persisted in his belief that she was still alive and would be rescued.

Sam and James: The Missing Teen is a young adult novel of suspense written by A.A. Freda. This sleuth mystery novel for young adult and new adults is a well-written and absorbing story that follows a Vietnam veteran as he finds his way after his tour of duty is over. Freda’s book adroitly captures elements of the police procedural, coming of age, and suspense genres, and his plot keeps the reader on edge as they read. The characters, especially, James, Sam and their friend, Kathy, are well defined and credible, and Freda’s writing is smooth and flowing. Sam and James: The Missing Teen is highly recommended.

Jane Finch

Sam and James: The Missing Teen by A.A. Freda is two stories rolled into one. The first is about Penelope Campos who, at the tender age of fourteen, is stalked and then abducted, not for ransom, but for the sexual gratification of her abductor. With the aid of an accomplice, Penelope is taken on her way home from school and there follows a mix up and incompetency by the police as they try to find her. The situation is not helped by her influential grandfather who puts pressure on the authorities to solve the case, whatever it takes. The second part of the story is about Sam and James, a young couple who set out on a journey from New York to Colorado, James intent on going to college to better himself after returning from Vietnam. However, he takes a different, unexpected career path that finds him on the trail of Penelope and her abductor.

These two stories are intertwined well, combining at the end for a clever conclusion. The writing style is appropriate for the Young Adult reader, and the characters are well developed and the story line well planned. The author describes the settings and scenery vividly, which gives the reader a good insight into the journey to Colorado and, later in the story, further afield as James develops his new role. Sam is tolerant of her husband-to-be and is successful in her own right and is a good addition to the story. There is some sexual content, although it is appropriate for the story line.

Samantha Dewitt (Rivera)

James never imagined when he returned from Vietnam that his life could change so much, but the decision to walk away from the girl he loves actually turns out to be the start of something truly amazing. The decision to be steadfast in his goals and to make sure he can return to school the way he always planned is even more so. In fact, his dedication is so strong that he suddenly finds himself with an entirely new set of goals in mind, and it’s not just about Sam. It’s about another girl that captures his attention and nearly his every waking thought in Sam and James: The Missing Teen by AA Freda.

If you love a mystery and you love a romance then you’re in for a treat here because Sam and James by AA Freda is a little bit of both. James is a dedicated war hero, back from the war and determined to make something of himself. Sam is an independent woman, determined to get what she’s set out for in life. When the two come together, it’s definitely a clash of wills, but more than that; it’s a balance of two people who are determined to support one another. Of course, it wouldn’t be a mystery without a little something to keep them off balance and a missing teenager who seems to be transported all over town is that. If they can find her before something terrible happens, it just might mean something incredible for everyone.

Viga Boland

Many of us are familiar with the story of Elizabeth Smart, who was abducted from her home in 2002, then held captive for 9 months by a bearded religious rapist assisted by his wife. As you read Sam and James by AA Freda, though the circumstances of the abduction of 14-year-old Penelope Campos in this story are different from Smart’s kidnapping, the reasons for the perp’s actions are the same: the fictional Isaiah Wheeler is a sexual deviant hiding behind a reclusive, religious mask.

Sam and James: The Missing Teen opens, as a good action or crime story should, with Isaiah and his accomplice stalking his victim in preparation for the kidnapping. Freda has our attention from word "go". Writing in the present tense throughout most of the story, the author creates an immediacy to the plot line which keeps the action moving along quickly. But since Freda’s primary audience is young adults, Freda does something readers won’t expect: after capturing our attention with the abduction, and alerting us to just how warped Wheeler is, Freda swings his focus over to Sam and James, two young adults in love, enjoying great sex and planning marriage when they are unexpectedly drawn into the search for Penelope Campos.

James, an ex-marine, is seeking the best route to carve out a solid future for Sam and himself. He becomes a private investigator and, along the way, impresses the heck out of Penelope Campos’ grandfather, a wealthy and powerful man who wants his granddaughter found if she is still alive. With the prospect of making really good money dangling in front of him, James rises to the challenge and this story of The Missing Teen takes off.

Using dialogue to help a story and its characters unfold is one of the best ways to make a novel a quick read. AA Freda is a master of that technique. The bulk of the novel is an exploration of the relationship between Sam and James and their peers. It’s also a reflection on some of the heartbreak James suffered in Vietnam and his views on the value of serving his country. These recollections and views are woven skillfully into the novel, without dragging it down. Young adults will find plenty to enjoy in Sam and James with its likeable, realistic characters doing what young people do. At the same time, they might also learn more about sides of life they have yet to or might never experience. Another good book by AA Freda.