Publisher: Thomas and Mercer
Genre: Mystery/Thriller, Crime Fiction
Some secrets are better left undiscovered.
When a nine-year-old girl goes missing in Harwood Forest, the search for her brings back memories of an unsolved double murder some forty years earlier. Could the key to Erin Jackson’s disappearance lie in the bloody fate of Elijah and Joanna Ingham, bludgeoned to death while their young daughters slept? Were the Inghams really the victims of opportunistic burglars—or a more sinister fate?
The woods are combed for signs of the child, but Erin’s brother, Jake, mounts his own investigation, uncovering evidence that puts the Inghams’ daughters—vanished Rachel and ‘crazy’ Mary—in the frame. Meanwhile, Erin’s father suspects that the ragtag army of eco-warriors besieging his quarry development may have something to hide.
As devastating secrets and betrayals are revealed, the Jackson family is brought to a breaking point. But time is running out. Erin is still missing and Jake’s unorthodox enquiries have left him dangerously exposed. They must find Erin and lay the past to rest—before they become its latest victims.
Anytime I read a blurb that talks about a missing persons case I’m immediately interested. It never fails to grab my attention, and if the missing person is a child I’m even more intrigued. Maybe it’s because I’m a parent and I know I will be able to relate to the parents in the book or maybe it’s because I’m a bit weird, but the combination of a missing young girl that’s possibly tied to a cold case screamed READ ME NOW to me.
The book begins on the morning of Erin Jackson’s disappearance. She’s out on a walk in the woods with her mom, Amanda and she just vanishes into thin air. As the small community unites to search for Erin, secrets and long buried betrayal begin to come to light. How in the world is the murder of a local couple in 1972 linked to her disappearance? What secret is Amanda hiding? And is this secret part of the reason Erin is gone? Tons of questions like this and more come up during the investigation.
I’m smack dab in the middle of my rating scale here with this one, there were things that really worked for me, then there were other things that didn’t work at all. I liked the pacing and structure of this one. Each chapter is time stamped and the bulk is told over forty eight hours. As the book progresses, the chapters get shorter and snappier which was great as it really ramped up the tension. It had a bit of a domestic suspense vibe to it, and that’s been one of my favorite genres as of late. Not enough to categorize it that way, but enough that I felt the need to mention it. Besides the characters of the Jackson family which includes Amanda, her husband Tom, son Jake and Amanda’s parents Henry and Cathy, there was Seth. He’s a mysterious out of towner who inserts himself into the investigation and I was really curious about how he would fit into everything.
What didn’t work so well for me? Well the mystery was just ok. I knew who the “bad guy” was, it felt rather obvious to me as Cheetham used a red herring that was just way too obvious to fall for. Another issue was that it was labeled as crime fiction and there wasn’t enough of the police officers perspective for me. In fact, there wasn’t anything from their POV at all. Yes, they were present in the story, but not really relevant and to me crime fiction always has a heavy presence of cops. Though I was pretty sure I knew how it would end, it played out slightly differently than I anticipated. Mostly because the ending reached a fever pitch rather quickly and things came off feeling very frantic and harried. It just didn’t sit well with me.
I feel like this may be my most confusing review to date! I didn’t love or hate this one, it was just ok. As I said before smack dab in the middle and unfortunately one I don’t think I’ll remember after I finish writing this review. I will say I would definitely give this author another chance as his writing was solid and the overall concept and plot was decent, I just can’t give this one my endorsement.
Overall rating: 3/5
Thanks to Thomas and Merced for providing my review copy.