Charlie Donlea, one of the most original new voices in suspense, returns with a haunting novel, laden with twists and high tension, about two abducted girls one who returns, one who doesn’t and the forensics expert searching for answers.
Nicole Cutty and Megan McDonald are both high school seniors in the small town of Emerson Bay, North Carolina. When they disappear from a beach party one warm summer night, police launch a massive search. No clues are found, and hope is almost lost until Megan miraculously surfaces after escaping from a bunker deep in the woods.
A year later, the bestselling account of her ordeal has turned Megan from local hero to national celebrity. It s a triumphant, inspiring story, except for one inconvenient detail: Nicole is still missing. Nicole’s older sister Livia, a fellow in forensic pathology, expects that one day soon Nicole’s body will be found, and it will be up to someone like Livia to analyze the evidence and finally determine her sister’s fate. Instead, the first clue to Nicole’s disappearance comes from another body that shows up in Livia’s morgue that of a young man connected to Nicole’s past. Livia reaches out to Megan for help, hoping to learn more about the night the two were taken. Other girls have gone missing too, and Livia is increasingly certain the cases are connected.
But Megan knows more than she revealed in her blockbuster book. Flashes of memory are coming together, pointing to something darker and more monstrous than her chilling memoir describes. And the deeper she and Livia dig, the more they realize that sometimes true terror lies in finding exactly what you’ve been looking for.
Do you like to read books that may take a short time to warm up, but then when they do, things take off at a breathtaking pace? Or how about books that are intricately plotted with a cast of well drawn, realistic characters? What about books that skim the boundaries of genre labels and just do their own thing? If you found yourself nodding along while reading that, then I have the book for you!
Stories that focus on the aftermath following an abduction are always quick to draw my attention and though this started off a tiny bit slow, I was still hooked rather quickly. The beginning focuses on Livia as she’s completing her residency in pathology and there is quite a bit of medical jargon used, but that type of thing interests me and Livia’s POV was a new one for me. It uses an alternating timeline from the weeks leading up to the abduction and then over a year after Megan escapes and Nicole is still missing. The chapters are short and extremely fast paced and as things flip back and forth, you slowly but surely find out what happened. Nicole’s flashbacks have crossover appeal as they had a YA feel to them, adding to the realistic writing throughout.
There were a lot of hints dropped that mislead me and in no way did I have it all figured out, Donlea didn’t take the easy way out by going with the obvious answers, he executed some killer twists that left me gasping. I think this is one that will fool even the craftiest of readers, multiple times. At times it was dark as it explored some sick, odd obsessions but that made it all the more of a compulsive read for me. I also really liked the chapters where Megan was doing hypnotherapy sessions as it’s a subject that intrigues me. This was a fantastic, solid mystery that delivered on all levels.
Overall rating: 5/5
Thanks to the publisher for my review copy.