Written by Jordan Cray
Published: 1998

The best decision he’d ever made in his life was not to be bitter. Waste of time.

Hey, people disappoint you. Maybe they betray you. So you get angry. Everyone gets angry. Anger and innocence can go hand in hand.

But people don’t understand that. They system stacks up against you. They throw the book at you. More than one book, they throw the freaking law library at you.

I’ve only ever read one of the Danger.com books. I’ve never found them in any library and Volume 7, Most Wanted, was probably a used book sale acquisition right around the time I got access to the internet, which wasn’t until age 11 or 12. Needless to say, this book, intentional or not, scared me straight with regards to the World Wide Web.

Andy MacFarland is a normal sixteen-year-old boy living in California. Raised by a single mother, he’s close friends with a neighbor girl Syd and her mother, who is his own mom’s business partner. Everything is fine… until Andy finds out that he’s actually adopted. And that his father Silas was put in prison for murdering Andy’s birth mother Pam. This revelation shakes Andy to the core and he becomes determined to prove his father’s innocence. When he finds out Silas is out of prison, Andy contacts him… and soon after Silas shows up on Andy’s doorstep. This causes some serious friction but Andy is determined to give Silas a chance, even while Syd and her mother are skeptical. Andy’s adopted mother Wendy is suspicious at first, but Silas’s unassuming charm and willingness to be helpful start to win her over.

This story is a great piece of manipulation and is also too realistic for comfort. You get to see both sides of the story as Andy tries to prove Silas’s innocence and Syd tries to convince Andy to be careful and not take any chances. She encourages him to not just take Silas at his word but to actually look into the facts and discover the truth. It’s frightening how much information is available if you just know where to look, a fact that I’m sure has only worsened in the last decade and a half since Most Wanted was written. It’s also scary to see how much we can delude ourselves and rationalize away clear warning signs that all is not right, just because we don’t want something to be true. The human capacity for self-deception and cruelty is astonishing.

After rereading Most Wanted, I’m actually impressed at how good it was and still is today. It’s quite a nifty psychological thriller and I’m curious about how the others in the Danger.com series compare. If you get the chance and want something realistically eerie for Halloween, check it out.