Jane’s daughter is a good girl. What is she hiding?
When thirteen-year-old Savannah Hopkins doesn’t come straight home from school, as she always does, her mother Jane immediately raises the alarm.
Leading the investigation is Detective Natalie Ward whose daughter Leigh is the same age as Savannah. Soon Natalie’s worst fears are confirmed when the teenager’s broken body is found in nearby shrubland.
Evidence points towards a local recluse, but just as the net is closing around him, one of Savannah’s friends, Harriet, is reported missing.
As Natalie delves into the lives of both girls, she soon discovers a sinister video on their phones, daring the girls to disappear from their families for 48 hours.
But Natalie isn’t quick enough for this killer, and she is devastated to find Harriet’s body on a fly tip a day later.
Caught up in the case, she takes her eye off her own daughter and when Leigh goes missing after school she knows she must be in terrible danger. The clock is ticking for Natalie. Can she catch this killer before her little girl becomes the next victim?
I received a copy of this book from Bookouture via NetGalley in return for an honest review.
This is my first time reading the DI Natalie Ward series, but the story reads perfectly as a standalone. You soon become familiar with the recurrent characters and their motivations and hangups.
The story is easy to read and realistic. There is a killer in the town preying on young girls. The girls have secrets, hidden from their mothers and this duplicity makes them vulnerable and susceptible to the evil that surrounds them.
There are multiple suspects and sketchy alibis and each delay bring the possibility of another innocent life taken closer. DI Natalie Ward is a dedicated officer, trying to balance her demanding career with troubled home life. There are notable parallels between her teenagers and the victims, which leads to a dangerous collision of personal and professional life that could end in tragedy for the detective.
The fast pacing complements the relentless menace of the abductions and killings. There is a good balance of action and detection and the suspense builds with every incident making this an addictive story. The characterisation makes the protagonist and the minor characters come to life. You feel their emotions and empathise with them
This is a contemporary story, the issues raised face each parent of teenagers and pre-teens, the power and anonymity of social media and the internet is explored in a believable and thought-provoking way. There are no stereotypes here.
The clever plot has the killer playing a game of ‘cat and mouse’ with the detective team, with dangerous stakes and a rising body count. Enhanced with an authentic setting and a cast of realistically flawed characters, this is a riveting noir crime thriller.