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Literature / On the Run

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Emmanuel Harris: "Your kids are on the run looking for evidence to prove your innocence. They won't surrender, even if we offer to put them up at Club Med.
Louise Falconer: "I can't believe it! They think they're doing it for us!"
Emmanuel Harris: "There's more. They're leaving a trail of stolen vehicles, breaking and entering, vagrancy, and petty theft behind them."

A thriller/adventure series by Gordon Korman, otherwise best known for his comedies, though he's written a lot of adventure stories lately. The series was published from 2005 to 2006.

Aiden and Meg Falconer are fugitives on the run. The reason? Their parents were arrested for a crime they didn't commit: treason. With their parents' arrest being a huge media circus, the two were given new last names and transferred to a program for troubled youth (read: juvenile hall on a farm), but managed to escape. Their goal: to prove their parents' innocence. They soon find that in order to survive, they need to break the law. Stealing clothes to replace their prison outfits is just the start, as the two find themselves breaking into houses to hide, stealing food to keep their energy up, stealing money and even in some cases, cars, to be able to get around. And they need to stay one step ahead of the many people who are on the lookout for the juvenile escapees mentioned in the news.


What follows is a massive chase, with Aiden and Meg having to use their wits and knowledge to survive, and sometimes relying on the help of anyone who might become an ally, which sometimes includes some rather shady people who might turn on them at any time.

To make matters worse, it's not just the police who are after the two. An assassin is also out to get them, and prevent them from discovering the truth.

The major characters are:

  • Aiden - Age 15. Protective older brother. A fan of his dad's cheesy "Mac Mulvey" detective stories, which provide the inspiration for many of his crazier ideas that actually work. Sometimes tries to avoid bursting his sister's bubble when she has an idea that he doesn't think is very good, for fear of upsetting her. Hates crime and wants nothing to do with the lifestyle they find themselves forced to live.
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  • Meg - Age 11. Energetic younger sister. Less likely to declare an idea worthless. Not as savvy as her brother, but does crazy and impulsive things that sometimes work very well. Adapts pretty well to the fact that in order to survive, the two have to break the law. She's also able to lie convincingly, which helps a lot.
  • Emmanuel Harris - The FBI agent who was considered a hero after locking up their parents for treason, but now believes he may have been wrong all along. He agonizes over the effects of what he did, and tries to find the kids after they escape juvenile custody.
  • Miguel - A teenager from the juvenile center Aiden and Meg are sentenced to. A big bully who really gives Aiden a lot of crap, Miguel ends up helping the kids out later on when the camp burns down. Miguel happens to know a lot of tricks that are useful for evading law enforcement, and helps the two out.
  • "Hairless Joe" - An incredibly determined assassin who tracks the kids from state to state, showing up wherever they might have reason to go, or wherever the news media mentions they were last seen, in an attempt to kill them. He pulls every trick he can to go after them, and even tries luring the kids into a trap. He also at times fakes being a police officer, an FBI agent, and so on in order to get information that only they would have access to. Agent Harris is after him at the same time he's after the kids.
  • "Frank Lindenauer" - A mysterious man who could very well be the cause of the Falconer parents' arrest, and likely framed them. Aiden and Meg are after him, believing he may be the key to proving their parents' innocence. Turns out he is the assassin chasing the kids. He did frame their parents and he is out to murder the kids to cover up any lose ends.

The books in the original series are:

  • Chasing the Falconers
  • The Fugitive Factor
  • Now You See Them, Now You Don't
  • The Stowaway Solution
  • Public Enemies
  • Hunting the Hunter

After On the Run, Gordon Korman wrote a sequel series, Kidnapped, which takes place immediately afterwards. Now exonerated, the Falconer family is still hated by many who are unwilling to believe they are innocent.

The story deals with another conspiracy - Meg is kidnapped as part of a much larger cause, and Aiden tries to rescue her, this time with the help of Emmanuel Harris from the original series. Meanwhile, Meg tries many escapes on her own, and also tries to use her wits to send out signals and clues to those who would rescue her - some of which only Aiden understands. Kidnapped is a completely different story. Meg's sarcasm and wit are put more in the background, since she can't exactly banter with her captors the way she could with Aiden in the first series. Instead, the focus switches between Aiden's attempts to rescue Meg, and Meg's attempts to escape.

There's also an additional dynamic: the kidnappers themselves. All three of them have different personalities and different motivations for kidnapping her, and Meg begins to know them quite well, and tries to deal with each kidnapper separately whenever she's left alone with one of them, while trying to take advantage of the one in his twenties, who's the nicest to her.

The major characters in the sequel series are:

  • Meg - Having survived the experiences of the first series, she has learned a few new things, including tricks from the cheesy detective novels her dad used to write, some of which help. She tries to size up her captors, determining how each would treat her differently, and use it to her advantage when possible.
  • Aiden - Not happy with teaming up with Agent Harris, Aiden splits up from him often to try his own methods to learn Meg's whereabouts. Some of the clues Meg sends out are hints only Aiden would recognize.
  • Emmanuel Harris - The FBI agent from the first series is now an ally, and is badass and no-nonsense as ever, while trying to make up for his mistake of having ruined the family's life in the first place.
  • Rufus Sehorn, "The Blog Hog" - An uninvited blogger who shows up at the Falconer residence and offers to help them receive help via his blog, and somehow manages to get information for the family through suspicious means. He's the co-leader of the whole kidnapping plot along with Marcelle, and a member of HORUS.
  • Richie - A friend of Aiden's, who desperately wants to help out with the rescue.
  • "Spidey" - One of the kidnappers. He's loud, threatening, large, and has no qualms about hurting Meg. His real name is Joseph "Joe" McFadden.
  • "Tiger" - One of the kidnappers. While her words are semi-reassuring, her icy-cold, all-business demeanor scares Meg far more than "Spidey". Her real name is Marcelle Devereaux. She turns out to be the co-leader of the kidnapping together with Sehorn, and a member of HORUS.
  • "Mickey" - One of the kidnappers. A twenty-something man who often shows regret and even embarrassment as being involved with the kidnapping, and is very friendly to Meg. She takes advantage of his friendliness whenever she can, and tries to invoke Lima Syndrome. His real name is Sean Antonino.

The sequel series has three books:

  • The Abduction
  • The Search
  • The Rescue

The first series (On the Run) contains examples of:

  • Air-Vent Passageway: It's portrayed as being very claustrophobic, but it is used.
  • Being Watched: Aiden and Meg get good at detecting when someone's following them or recognizes them.
  • Big Bad: The assassin Hairless Joe provides the biggest threat to Aiden and Meg. And he's later revealed to be Frank Lindenauer, who framed the kids' parents in the first place, setting off the series.
  • Big Brother Instinct: Definitely played very straight by Aiden, and also reversed with some Little Sister Instinct from Meg. The two of them eventually lose track of how many times they save each other, and the Big Bad sardonically lampshades their willingness to sacrifice themselves for each other at the climax of the series.
    • When the siblings are being attacked by Hairless Joe, Aiden frequently shields Meg with his body or pushes her into a corner to try to protect her. And in Hunting the Hunter, when Frank Lindenauer captures Meg and plans to use her to escape in a Hostage Situation, Aiden tries to pull a Take Me Instead.
    • The biggest examples from Meg come in Hunting the Hunter: When she realizes that Aiden is going to put his life at risk—and even accept being murdered—if it means getting the evidence to prove their parents innocent, this is enough to get Meg to turn herself in to Harris to protect her brother. And later, when Lindenauer takes her hostage and Aiden offers to exchange himself for her, she refuses to let him do so.
  • Bittersweet Ending: Miguel was transferred to a maximum security prison, and his life is still in shambles. Also, the sequel series opens with the family taking crap because the parents are still thought by many to be traitors.
  • Brother–Sister Team: Aiden and Meg. Both of them note to themselves many times that being on the run together is the only thing that makes it bearable.
  • Caught on Tape: Aiden and Meg eventually plan to expose the Big Bad and clear their parents' names by goading him into confessing to framing them and recording it on tape. It's subverted when, thanks to Hairless Frank ambushing Aiden on Turnbull's farm and the situation escalating so quickly, Aiden doesn't have the recorder on him when Lindenauer gloats about it during the final conversation and isn't able to get it on tape. It's then double-subverted because Turnbull's landlord had bugged his entire farm, and these bugs did record the confession successfully.
  • Chase Scene: Many. Probably the most harrying one occurs in Public Enemies, in which Hairless Joe chases down Aiden and Meg with the former in a Corvette and the latter two on a Harley motorcycle, ending with him pursuing them through a graveyard and cornering them in a mausoleum.
  • Clear Their Name: What kicks off the story as the two initially escape from juvie, and the driving force for much of the plot.
  • Clothesline Stealing: In the first novel, Meg and Aiden use this so they'll have alternative to juvie jumpsuits.
  • Corruption of a Minor: In The Fugitive Factor, they encounter a girl whose dad is forcing her to steal things that he then sells.
  • Curb-Stomp Battle: Aiden gets into a fight with Miguel in the first book and loses very badly. Miguel is later on the receiving end of one from the assassin. Aiden is nearly killed when he runs into the assassin, only surviving because he got lucky and knocks him out with the below mentioned Improvised Weapon.
  • Defensive Failure: Subverted. After he mockingly tells her "You don't have it in you," Meg would have shot the guy, except Aiden stopped her.
  • Despair Event Horizon: The Falconer siblings, but especially Aiden, hit this after the climax of Hunting the Hunted, in which Lindenauer is now dead and, as far as they know, his gloated confession of having framed their parents wasn't taped successfully; they get chucked back into juvie and believe that their only possibility of proving their parents innocent is gone forever. Luckily, it turns out that the confession was recorded through other means, and Harris makes sure that all the Falconers are cleared of all charges.
  • Does Not Like Guns: After getting the gun from the assassin, Aiden wants nothing to do with it and tosses it away into a lake.
  • Dressing as the Enemy: Happens more than once, as a way of hiding in plain sight, or sneaking past those searching for the kids.
  • Dudley Do-Right Stops to Help: Despite being fugitives who can't afford to risk being caught, the Falconer siblings do tip off the police to bust a couple of crimes unrelated to them in order to help some people they befriend while on the run:
    • In The Fugitive Factor, Meg befriends an unhappy girl named Chelsea who's staying with her father at the same hotel that she and Aiden are at. She eventually figures out that Chelsea has been forced into burglary by her father, who makes her rob the hotel rooms of rich guests, and in order to free her from her father's tyranny, Meg tips the cops off about the thieves' identities and provides the address of the fence where Chelsea's dad pawns the items he makes his daughter steal.
    • In Now You See Them, Now You Don't, Aiden notices that a young man is about to be stabbed and saves his life. This gangster, Bo, takes the Falconers in to repay them, keeps their secret after learning their identities, and later saves their lives from Hairless Joe. The siblings also learn during this time that Zapp, one of the other gang members, is trying to have Bo killed (having arranged the attempted stabbing) and take over the gang. To return the favor to Bo, they tip off Agent Harris to bust Zapp for counterfeiting.
  • Dye or Die: Miguel realizes that Aiden and Meg would have to change their appearance, so he dyes their hair and cuts it.
  • Gosh Dang It to Heck!: Mostly mild. No characters curse, and even some expressions are modified. "Apewire" is a stand-in for "apeshit". On the other hand, Miguel — a tough kid from juvie — gets hit by this hard in the first book. If he weren't such a badass, he'd be turned into a Bad Butt as a result of having his (many) insults censored in odd ways.
  • Greater-Scope Villain: HORUS Global Group, the front organization for terrorists that John and Louise Falconer were tricked into helping. The Big Bad of the "On the Run" series, Frank Lindenauer, worked for them in the past, but the group as a whole doesn't play a larger role until the "Kidnapped" sequel series.
  • Heroic BSoD: Miguel has this after his brother disowns him and won't let Miguel live in his house.
  • Hero with Bad Publicity: Poor Aiden and Meg. As the story goes on, more and more people hate them, and they overhear more and more conversations about how terrible they are, how they should be locked up, and so on. Though they do have the occasional ally.
  • He's Got a Weapon!: Aiden shouts "knife!" when spotting someone armed with one.
  • Hollywood Silencer: In literary form.
    The pistol fired — a sound closer to a cough than a gunshot.
  • Hostage Situation / Mexican Standoff: The climax of the series involves this. Lindenauer/McKenzie takes Meg hostage and has her at gunpoint while FBI agent Lucy Batista has a gun on him. Lindenauer knows Batista can't shoot him before he shoots Meg, and plans to use Meg to escape and then kill her afterwards. It's eventually resolved when, after multiple distractions, Batista is able to shoot and kill Lindenauer.
  • Idiot Savant: Oznot, who has a severe mental disorder of some sort and is unable to communicate verbally, but draws excellent portraits. A crucial detail in these portraits eventually allows Aiden to make the connection that Hairless Joe is actually Frank Lindenauer, the very man they've been searching for.
  • I Don't Like You and You Don't Like Me: Emmanuel Harris to the Falconer parents when he tries to get their help in pleading for their kids to turn themselves in.
    Emmanuel Harris: "You don't like me. I understand that. Frankly, I'd be very surprised if you did like me."
  • Improvised Weapon: A fish mounted on a wall is used to knock out an assassin.
  • Indy Ploy: Improvised when chases occur.
  • I Owe You My Life: The reason Bo takes in Aiden and Meg, helps them out, and refuses to turn them in for the reward in Now You See Them, Now You Don't, and later saves their lives from Hairless Joe: Aiden had saved him from being murdered by a member of a rival gang. They later repay Bo when they find out that Zapp, one of the members of his gang, is The Starscream who's trying to have him killed, and get Zapp busted for counterfeiting.
  • Insistent Terminology: The International Collective hates being called a gang, even though that's basically what they are.
  • It Never Gets Any Easier: Both played straight and averted. While the characters do feel this way at times, at other times, it's noted that even frequent bouts of fear become routine after a while.
  • Jurisdiction Friction: Occurs between Harris and Adler, the head of Juvenile Corrections.
  • Justified Criminal: Aiden and Meg eventually realize they have to break the law in order to survive. At one point, Aiden writes an apology letter for a vacationing family just before stealing their car.
  • Kid Detective: The heroes essentially have to become this to prove their parents' innocence, as they search for clues during their travels.
  • Knight of Cerebus: The assassin. Unlike Miguel, who was a jerk but ultimately sympathetic, and Emmanuel Harris who is a Hero Antagonist, the assassin is actually evil. He first appearance has him assault and nearly kill Miguel and Aiden. He continues to be the biggest threat in later books as he tries to murder the siblings. Taken up even further with The Reveal that he is Frank Lindenauer, and he did frame Aiden and Meg's parents.
  • Linked List Clue Methodology: How the kids follow the trail of "Frank Lindenauer".
  • Little Miss Snarker: Meg.
  • Miscarriage of Justice: Aiden and Meg's parents' convictions, considering that they're totally innocent.
  • My Greatest Failure: The FBI agent pursuing Aiden and Meg, Emmanuel Harris, worries that he did a terrible thing by locking up their parents and putting them in juvie for their protection, and even frets that their parents may in fact be innocent. He worries that if that's the case, he ruined two kids' lives - and their parents' - for nothing.
  • Papa Wolf: Agent Harris develops this more and more towards the Falconer siblings as the series goes on. Though they exasperate and frustrate him by successfully eluding the authorities so many times, he also takes an almost fatherly pride in their resourcefulness and cleverness, and he is primarily trying to hunt them down for their own safety. He feels responsible for them due to putting their parents in jail (especially because he suspects they may be innocent), and wants to protect them from Hairless Joe.
  • Parental Abandonment: Unusual variant: instead of being dead, they're in jail.
  • Recurring Element:
    • All of the odd-numbered volumes in the series have Aiden and Meg receiving assistance in avoiding police capture from some kind of shady ally who grows to like them and refuses to reveal their location to Harris when he interrogates them: Miguel in Book 1, Bo in Book 3, and the Mouth of America (a shock jock) in Book 5.
    • All of the even-numbered titles have one of the siblings being captured by the authorities for a brief period: Meg in Book 2, Aiden in Book 4, and Meg again in Book 6 (voluntarily this time), and then both siblings briefly get thrown into juvie again near the end before Harris gets them out.

  • Save the Villain: Aiden reflexively does this for Hairless Joe in Public Enemies when the latter almost falls down the elevator shaft he tried to throw Aiden and Meg into. Aiden later laments this since it would have made things much less dangerous for him and Meg, but it turns out to have been very important because Hairless Joe and Frank Lindenauer are really one and the same, and the Falconers need him alive to prove their parents' innocence.
  • Scary Black Man: Emmanuel Harris is 6 feet 7 inches tall and intimidating to many people, a fact that is mentioned numerous times and remarked upon by many. He ends up with numerous nicknames, from "the 9-foot tall FBI agent" to "J. Edgar Giraffe".
  • Series Goal: Clear their parents' names.
  • Stern Chase: The kids just can't stay in one town for too long, as their pursuers soon find them.
  • Surprisingly Realistic Outcome:
    • Aiden tries to stand up to Miguel, someone higher in the pecking order at the juvenile hall than him and Meg. He loses very badly.
    • Miguel, and Aiden shortly afterwards, are assaulted by the assassin and also lose badly, with Miguel even being non-fatally shot. Teenagers are no match for a trained killer.
    • Throughout the series, the siblings often fall asleep when they're trying not to, oversleep once they do, and/or have to keep each other awake in situations where it's not safe to fall asleep (such as the back of a motorcycle). These are kids who are going for long periods without any rest; they do need sleep, and will only be able to stave off exhaustion for so long before it catches up to them.
    • Aiden and Meg taunt Emmanuel Harris by leaving behind photos of themselves. This allows Harris to better track them, since he is able to publish these pictures of what they look like now (as opposed to the outdated mug shots the authorities had been using before) and thus members of the general public recognize them far more easily.
    • The assassin at one point tracks Aiden and Meg to police station. Finding them there gives them the chance to escape since he can't kill them in a building full of witnesses, let alone police officers.
    • Agent Harris wants to find Aiden and Meg in hopes that he can keep them from getting into real danger. They are still mad at him for the wrongful arrest of their parents, and despite his attempts to make amends, they are extremely distrustful and want nothing to do with him.
    • Harris at one point tries to enlist the local police to find Aiden and Meg. They only provide him with temporary assistance since they are busy enough already.
  • The Reveal: By putting together the clues they find over the course of the books, Aiden and Meg gradually deduce some important details:
    • In Now You See Them, Now You Don't, they learn that Frank Lindenauer, their parents' contact who told them he worked for the CIA, was actually working for HORUS, the front organization for the terrorists who ended up with the profiles that the Falconers wrote for Frank. Thus, Lindenauer was the one who framed them.
    • In Public Enemies, they realize that "Hairless Joe", the assassin chasing Meg and Aiden, was Frank Lindenauer all along. He's trying to kill them to cover up any loose ends that could lead back to him.
    • Agent Harris discovers in Hunting the Hunter that "Frank Lindenauer" isn't even Hairless Joe's real name; his true identity is Terence McKenzie, and he really was a low-level CIA agent for a while before he became The Mole, and, once the CIA discovered this, dropped out of sight before he could be fired and changed his identity.
  • Sweet Polly Oliver: Meg is disguised as a boy on a couple of different occasions to throw off everyone who's searching for a brother and sister.
  • Take Me Instead: In the series climax when Frank Lindenauer has captured Meg and is holding her at gunpoint, Aiden—who knows Frank will kill her as soon as he escapes—tries to bargain with him to exchange himself for Meg as Lindenauer's hostage. Meg, of course, refuses to allow this, and Lindenauer mocks their self-sacrificing natures.
  • Trademark Favorite Food: You don't mess with Emmanuel Harris's coffee. He knows his coffee.
  • Walking the Earth: Occurs throughout the first series.
  • We Need a Distraction: And Meg and Aiden come up with quite a few.
  • We Need to Get Proof: The problem Aiden and Meg face.
  • Writers Cannot Do Math: Meg is 11. So should she be in sixth grade, as the book says...except it's stated that her parents were arrested 14 months ago, and it's implied she was in sixth grade at the time they were arrested as well. A ten-year-old would only be in a sixth grade if they had a late birthday, but even if that was the case for Meg, that would mean she should be in seventh grade now.

The sequel series (Kidnapped) contains examples of:

  • Anti-Villain: "Mickey" (real name Sean). The only reason he helps abduct Meg is so that he can help his younger brother. Anytime he shares a scene with Meg, he displays a mixture of Big Brother Instinct and Lima Syndrome. He later helps Meg escape and assists Aiden and Harris in finding her, and accordingly, gets off with a much lighter sentence than his accomplices.
  • Ascended Extra: In the original "On the Run" series, while proving John and Louise Falconer innocent was the Series Goal, they got very little actual screentime, since they were in prison until the very end of the series. Here, now that they're out of prison and trying to resume normal lives, they have much larger roles and presence throughout all three books, and even become Parents in Distress during the climax of the series.
  • Authentication by Newspaper: The trio of kidnappers do this, but in turn, make Meg cry because the date on the newspaper is her birthday. "Mickey" tries to later remedy this by giving her a cupcake with a match on top (to act as a candle).
  • The Baroness: "Tiger", one of the kidnappers.
  • Bears Are Bad News:
    • Inverted at first. The bear is only a cute cub, and actually proves to be useful, providing a vital distraction for Meg, John, and Louise, who are being held at gunpoint by HORUS, to escape.
    • Played straight, though, with the cub's Mama Bear. It mauls and badly injures Joe/"Spidey", and tries to attack Aiden, Meg, and Harris before The Cavalry shows up Just in Time.
  • Big Bad: HORUS Global Group. Meg's kidnapping turns out to have been part of a larger scheme by them to lure John and Louise Falconer out in the open to kill them in a way that won't cast suspicion on HORUS. More directly, Rufus Sehorn the Blog Hog and Marcelle Devereux (a.k.a. "Tiger", the female kidnapper) are the two HORUS members tasked with assassinating the Falconers.
  • Big Brother Instinct:
    • Aiden spends the entire trilogy trying to save his little sister.
    • Same with "Mickey". He's only a part of the kidnapping scheme to help his kid brother. That's the reason why he doesn't want to hurt Meg, and when he realizes that his accomplices do intend to harm her, he helps her escape.
  • Bound and Gagged: Happens to Meg. Most of the time, she's free to walk around and try to orchestrate an escape.
  • The Brute: "Spidey", the meanest of the kidnappers.
  • Buried Alive:
    • The ultimate fate of Rufus Sehorn during the mine cave-in at the climax is either this or being crushed to death.
    • Briefly seems to have happened to Aiden and Meg as well, who avoid being crushed by rocks like Sehorn was but are apparently trapped inside the mine. Luckily, they soon find and escape through a mine shaft.
  • By-the-Book Cop: Mike Sorenson, who replaces Emmanuel Harris as the lead agent on Meg's kidnapping case at the beginning of the second book, and causing tension with the rest of the Falconer family to the point that Aiden runs away to find Meg by himself. Him finally overcoming this and being willing to bend protocol in an emergency is what allows him to become The Cavalry for the climax of the series.
  • The Cavalry: The FBI backup, led by Mike Sorenson, shows up Just in Time to save Agent Harris and the Falconer siblings from being mauled by a bear, and arrests the kidnappers.
    • The Cavalry Arrives Late: Downplayed since, as mentioned above, Sorenson and the FBI do save Harris and the Falconers from a bear; however, by the time they arrive, all of the kidnappers have already been killed or incapacitated.
  • Contrasting Sequel Antagonist: The Big Bad of "On the Run", Hairless Joe, was an Obviously Evil assassin who was clearly the main bad guy from the very beginning. In "Kidnapped", while the kidnappers seem to be the same, two of them are actually Unwitting Pawns to the third, who is working together with someone who appears to be a harmless friend and ally of the Falconers and only shows his true colors at the climax: Rufus Sehorn.
  • Convicted by Public Opinion: Although the Falconer parents have been proven innocent (as should be made clear by the fact that they're now living at home), their house is the victim of vandalism and their kids take a lot of crap at school. What's more, one of the kidnappers hates the Falconer parents.
  • Dramatic Irony: When Sehorn is driving John and Louise to the ransom dropoff to get Meg back, they silently note with some irritation that he seems way too cheerful under the circumstances, but don't know why. The readers, meanwhile, have just learned along with Sorenson that Sehorn is in the league with the kidnappers, and thus realize that he's so cheerful because everything is going according to plan and the Falconers are already captured even though they haven't realized it yet.
  • Even Evil Has Standards: "Mickey", one of Meg's captors. He won't let "Spidey" physically hurt her, and there are other lines he won't cross.
  • False Flag Operation: HORUS is actually behind Meg's kidnapping as part of a plan to kill the whole Falconer family. Rather than directly murdering them and likely being the prime suspects, HORUS intends to make it look like a simple ransom exchange gone wrong so they won't be suspected.
  • Fire-Forged Friends: By the end of the series, Aiden Falconer and Emmanuel Harris seem to have genuinely become this after working together to rescue Meg, as observed by Aiden's father. It plays a role in John also agreeing to bury the hatchet with him.
  • Forgiveness: When John Falconer asks how he and his wife can repay Agent Harris for protecting their children, Harris reveals that all he really wants is for them to forgive him for his mistake that led to the events of the previous series and this one. John grants him this forgiveness.
  • Gallows Humor: Meg asks Aiden if he's "hung himself" yet when talking about his macrame project.
  • Go Through Me: Agent Harris puts himself between the Falconer kids and a rampaging bear to protect them, which plays a big role in the Falconers finally forgiving him.
  • Heel–Face Turn: One of the captors, the college-aged one named Sean, pulls this by helping Meg escape when he realizes that his accomplices don't actually plan to let her go.
  • Horrible Judge of Character: Played with in regards to John and Louise Falconer:
    • On the one hand, though FBI Agent Harris does sincerely want to help the Falconers get Meg back, they have understandable reasons for not liking and trusting him after all the harm he's caused to their family, and he himself fully acknowledges this. What's more, he does genuinely screw up the ransom handoff in the first book, which, naturally, makes them trust him even less and gets him taken off the case.
    • On the other hand, they (along with Aiden) are totally fooled by Rufus Sehorn into thinking he's their Only Friend and greatest ally, when he's actually a HORUS agent behind Meg's kidnapping who's planning to murder them. This is the second time they've been tricked by a HORUS agent pretending to be their friend, as Sehorn himself lampshades, after the first time this happened (with Lindenauer) caused the events of both series to happen in the first place. By contrast, Agent Harris himself is pretty much the only person who never trusts Sehorn from the beginning.
  • I Don't Like You and You Don't Like Me: Harris has more respect for the Falconer family, but they still don't like him, and he gives a similar speech to them when they agree to work together to rescue Meg.
  • Instant Sedation: Meg is chloroformed a few times within the series. It takes just seconds after a while.
  • Lima Syndrome: Meg attempts to produce this in her captors, or at least the college-aged one. “Mickey” starts caring enough about Meg that he helps her escape at the end of the second book.
  • Living with the Villain: Rufus Sehorn, the blogger who shacks up with the Falconer family and offers to help, is actually working with the kidnappers.
  • Mama Bear:
    • Louise Falconer is very protective of her children and is willing to do whatever it takes to keep Aiden safe and get Meg back.
    • A literal example tries to attack the Falconer siblings after previously mauling one of the kidnappers.
  • Minion with an F in Evil: "Mickey" is the nicest of the kidnappers, and later makes a Heel–Face Turn
  • My Greatest Failure: Still upset over the fact that he's responsible for the upheaval of Aiden and Meg's family, FBI Agent Harris takes it upon himself to get involved with Meg's rescue to try to atone for what he did. Even after he's taken off the case in the second book, he still continues working with Aiden to find her.
  • Oh, Crap!: Aiden realizes the kidnapping is happening in front of him as he watches.
  • Only in It for the Money:
    • Sean/"Mickey" only got involved with kidnapping for the ransom money, which he needs in order to afford a lawyer for his 16-year-old brother who'd gotten in trouble with the law. He's rather ashamed of it, and once he find evidence that his partners have more than money in mind and plan to actually hurt Meg, he helps her escape.
    • While there are hints in the second book that Joe/"Spidey" has a grudge against the Falconers for being traitors, it turns out that this really is the case for him, too. He is bewildered and outraged to learn from Marcelle/"Tiger" when she turns on him that money was never really the end goal of the kidnapping. It's possible that the anti-Falconer articles "Mickey" found that he thought were "Spidey"'s were really "Tiger"'s all along.
  • Papa Wolf:
    • John Falconer is very protective of his children and is willing to do whatever it takes to keep Aiden safe and get Meg back.
    • Emmanuel Harris towards both of the siblings as well. He is determined to get Meg back and works with Aiden to find her, protecting the latter as best he can along the way. At the climax of the series, he confronts Sehorn when the HORUS agent has the kids cornered, and puts himself directly between them and a rampaging bear.
  • Post-Climax Confrontation: After the kidnappers and HORUS have been defeated, the Falconers and Harris are almost mauled by a bear before the FBI shows up.
  • Red Herring: Sean/"Mickey" appears to make the discovery that one of his partners-in-crime, Joe/"Spidey", hates the Falconer family and still considers them traitors, and helps Meg escape because he assumes that Joe plans to kill her rather than return her to her family. It's later revealed that Joe actually was, in fact, Only in It for the Money just like Sean; it's their third accomplice, Marcelle/"Tiger", who has ulterior motives for the kidnapping and doesn't actually plan to return Meg to her family.
  • The Reveal: HORUS Global Group—whose members were believed to all be dead or in jail—is secretly still around, and Meg's kidnapping was actually part of their plot to kill the whole Falconer family in such a way that they wouldn't be considered the main suspects. Rufus Sehorn and Marcelle Devereaux ("Tiger") both work for HORUS and are the masterminds behind the plan.
  • Self-Disposing Villain: Rufus Sehorn's shootout trying to murder the Falconers and Harris causes the mine to collapse, killing him via being Buried Alive and/or crushed to death.
  • Series Goal: Rescue Meg (or rescue herself, in Meg's case).
  • Tap on the Head: Multiple times, Meg hits her head by falling or being pushed, is knocked unconscious, and wakes up later with nothing more than a headache.
  • Teeth-Clenched Teamwork: Aiden doesn't like working with Agent Harris to look for Meg, being that Harris is the one who locked up his parents, after all.
  • Unwitting Pawn: The abduction plot isn't really about a simple exchange for ransom money, but only one of Meg's three captors ("Tiger") knows this, and is working with a secret fourth kidnapper (Sehorn). Their two accomplices ("Mickey" and "Spidey"), who are Only in It for the Money, are just their patsies, and the latter doesn't realize this until it's too late.
  • Villainous Rescue: When one of Meg's escape attempts nearly results in her death, her captors rescue her... but don't let her go, obviously.
  • Villain Respect: When "Tiger" turns on "Spidey" near the climax of the third book, she outright tells him that, out of the three people she's been trapped with for the past week (him, "Mickey", and Meg), the latter is the only one worthy of her respect.
    "Tiger": (about Meg) She's a brat, but at least she's got guts!
  • Would Hit a Girl: "Spidey" has no compunctions about hurting Meg, and is very rough towards her.