I love my town library! Between it, and recommendations from other bloggers, like this friend, I have been finding some really good books to read during the evenings after dinner.
This was a real fast-paced, page-turner that is very gripping. It's the author's debut novel. I hope she has plans to write more!
Rachel Jenner is a single mom. Her husband, John Finch, left her to marry another woman named Katrina, about a year ago. John and Rachel share custody of Ben, with Ben going to John's on weekends. They live in Bristol, England a few minutes apart from each other.
One October Sunday evening, Rachel and Ben are walking in Leigh Woods...a little park with a playground and trails not far from their home. Ben, age 8, asks his mom if he can run ahead and she is hesitant. But not wanting to be a hovering mother, she agrees he can run ahead to the rope swing and wait for her there. He takes off ahead of her, with their little dog Skittle.
That is the last time Rachel sees her son.
He has simply vanished.
The police arrive and they find his clothing plus sneakers in a little bag on the wooded path. They also find Skittle who has a broken leg.
Immediately, search parties are organized, and Rachel, who is already a bit insecure due to her divorce, begins to feel herself coming undone. Hours pass, and then days. There is no sign of Ben anywhere!
Everyone who knew him comes under investigation. Everyone. Even Rachel's newly married ex-husband and her "perfect" sister Nicky Forbes. Ben's teacher, the other school staff, Katrina...everyone who plays a role in Ben's young life.
The media has a field day with this case. They begin to focus on Rachel and many people via social media and a blog think she is guilty. Their attitude goes from sympathy to suspicion...all because she is a single mother.
Rachel begins to piece together her own clues...and in doing so, she discovers that people are not always what or whom they seem to be.
The biggest dangers are not always the dangerous strangers. Rather, it is sometimes the very people you trust.
Where is Ben?? The clock is ticking......and then one week later.....
This book is full of suspense, angst, and family drama.
It is very focused on what happens in the minds of parents with missing children as well as in the minds of the detectives and other law enforcement people helping in the case of a kidnapped child.
I loved that the author included real statistics and facts regarding the exploitation of missing children and what the family unit should do/act like when waiting for closure, whatever that might be.
The book is divided into the voices of Rachel and Jim, the main detective on the case. Each section is preceded by facts or information from real sources from Canada, the United States and the United Kingdom. I found it a fascinating way to write this plot.
The book also goes a bit into the future...with Jim and a counselor having a conversation which is told by the reader reading the "notes" made by the counselor. Again, a brilliant way to write this fast-moving and gripping plot, especially because it is mixed in with the present.
The character development is amazing and at first I thought the kidnapper was going to be one character who seemed to be the obvious choice. But then.....as in real life....the predator is someone you least expect. It is discovered by one verbal clue towards the end of the book in the voice of one of the people who know Ben well, which was just so well done. You do have to pay attention to little details regarding Ben and his life at home to know what that pivotal point is. It was awesome!
Of course, after reading the book, I had to say a quick prayer of thanks that nothing like this had ever happened with my own children. Kidnappings are very real....and not all turn out the way it does in this book of course.....
In my opinion, this book is appropriate for ages 14 and older.
On a scale of 1-10, with 10 being the highest, I rate this a 10.