This book reels you in right from the beginning. The story is every mother’s worse nightmare. A single mother takes her precious eight-year-old son to the park for a walk with the family dog. She gives him an ounce of independence and lets him walk ahead to get to a swing in the park. He’s only out of her sight for a minute or two, but that’s all it takes. When she gets to the swing, he’s not there. The mother looks around frantically, but she can’t find him. She asks friends and strangers who are at the park that day, but nobody saw him. The police are called, the missing child case becomes high profile, and people start pointing fingers.
The point of view alternates between Rachel (the mother) and Jim (one of the DI’s investigating the case). Some of Jim’s points of view are a therapy session that his department paid for hoping that it’ll help him keep his job. The alternating POV adds suspense to the story and sometimes I had this desire to skip ahead because I couldn’t wait to find out what happened next. What I loved most about the alternating POV was being able to see the story from a POV of a grieving mother and a frustrated DI. There are e-mail conversations and blog posts about the investigation, but I wasn’t too fond of those, although I did see their importance — these are the parts that I really wanted to skip.
There are many characters in this story other than the boy and his mother and every one of them is vivid — even the minor characters are well developed in the short time they’re in the story. There are plenty of screwed up characters in this book with traumatic pasts, so most of them look like a viable suspect. Some of the characters have long-held secrets that are revealed just when you think things can’t get any worse. I felt so sorry for the mother. Her only child is missing and she’s publicly falling apart at the seams. She appears unhinged, but who wouldn’t in that situation?
I loved the fact that the story took center stage instead of the writing. The writing wasn’t complicated, flashy, or distracting. The writing keeps the story going with plot and suspense and without drawing too much attention to itself.
I couldn’t stop reading this book. I didn’t know who was guilty, so I kept changing my mind. There were some nice misdirects, because several backstories intertwine with the missing child story. It was that wonderful rollercoaster ride of when I think a mystery is solved, but then I’m fooled and it’s back to square one. I went back to my list of suspects, cross somebody off and then looked at the next person on the list. I was actually shocked at who was guilty.
If you love mysteries and thrillers with suspense, you’ll love this one.