REVIEW: I FOUND YOU by Lisa Jewell

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GOODREADS BLURB

Published April 25, 2017 By Atria Books

‘How long have you been sitting out here?

‘I got here yesterday.’

‘Where did you come from?’

‘I have no idea.’

East Yorkshire: Single mum Alice Lake finds a man on the beach outside her house. He has no name, no jacket, no idea what he is doing there. Against her better judgement she invites him in to her home.

Surrey: Twenty-one-year-old Lily Monrose has only been married for three weeks. When her new husband fails to come home from work one night she is left stranded in a new country where she knows no one. Then the police tell her that her husband never existed.

Two women, twenty years of secrets and a man who can’t remember lie at the heart of Lisa Jewell’s brilliant new novel.

*****

This book releases TODAY and I’m telling you it’s FANTASTIC and UNPUTDOWNABLE!   Am I over-doing the adjectives?  Oh well, I can’t help it because I LOVED this book. As many of you may remember, I did a mini-review of this one back in November so for everyone who missed that I wanted to provide a full review now.

The story takes place in a quaint coastal seaside town (a favorite setting of mine) which I imagine looks very much like the awesome cover of the book! It’s the story of Alice, Lily and a man with no memory of who he is or how he ended up on a beach in this British seaside town of Ridinghouse Bay. The narrative starts crisp and engaging with Alice, who I immediately connected with and liked. I mean within the first few pages of meeting Alice, hearing her speak, being privy to her thoughts, I was rooting for her. Could be that I totally sympathized  with having to try to reason with dogs who weren’t listening and following directions! Whatever the reason, Lisa Jewell pulled me in in those first few pages and I knew I wasn’t leaving my couch anytime soon.

The plot was intriguing in that it alternates between Alice’s situation, Lily’s predicament of her missing husband, and the goings on of the Ross family on their vacation in 1993. You will get to know all of these characters while at the same time trying to figure out the heart of this mystery. Or should I say mysteries because there really is more than one! Let me tell you, I had my theories throughout this page turner but just when I thought I for sure had it figured out Lisa Jewell added a new detail or revealed a different layer and I was second guessing what I thought I knew. I love it when that happens! I really don’t want to say anymore about the plot because ( for me ) I really enjoyed not knowing anything about his book other than the Goodreads blurb.

Here’s what’s important to know…the chapters are short, the dialogue is spot on and the mystery is puzzling. Add to that the allure of the setting and you’ve got a one-sit read because I’d be really surprised if you can put this down after starting it…I couldn’t.

Many thanks to Bookreporter.com’s Sneak Peak contest and Atria Books for my copy of this book. I’m happy to provide an honest review

 

REVIEW: THE RIVER AT NIGHT By Erica Ferencik

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From Goodreads

A high stakes drama set against the harsh beauty of the Maine wilderness, charting the journey of four friends as they fight to survive the aftermath of a white water rafting accident, The River at Night is a nonstop and unforgettable thriller by a stunning new voice in fiction.

Winifred Allen needs a vacation.

Stifled by a soul-crushing job, devastated by the death of her beloved brother, and lonely after the end of a fifteen-year marriage, Wini is feeling vulnerable. So when her three best friends insist on a high-octane getaway for their annual girls’ trip, she signs on, despite her misgivings.

What starts out as an invigorating hiking and rafting excursion in the remote Allagash Wilderness soon becomes an all-too-real nightmare

******

 First things first..that is the perfect cover and title for this pulse pounding, can’t put it down thriller.  I went into this read not knowing anything about this story except that it was an adventure thriller in which some friends decide to go white water rafting but things end up going very wrong. I didn’t read the Goodreads or Amazon blurbs and I urge you to do the same! I’ve only included about a third of the Goodreads blurb above just to give those of you who haven’t heard of this book an idea of what it’s about because, in my opinion ,the entire Goodread’s blurb gives away too much of the story. This book is a thriller! It’s about being surprised and not knowing what’s going to happen on the river or what lurks in the wilderness so you’re along for the ride with the ladies. And what a ride it will be.

Here’s a question to ask yourself…would you choose to go white water rafting in the remote Maine wilderness for  your girls-getaway-trip, tackling a river that most people don’t even have access to? My answer was a very loud no, never, not in a million years could you pay me to go white water rafting anywhere , let alone on a remote stretch of river that’s not open to the public.  And for this very reason, of being scared at just the thought of rafting down any river, I couldn’t wait to find out what happens to these four friends when they decide to brave the very adventure that sounds terrifying to me.

It all begins with the “leader”, Pia, talking her three good friends, Rachel, Sandra and Wini into going white water rafting for their annual girls trip. Apparently, Pia is into extreme living and she has, in the past, talked the ladies into other adventure type vacations. Wini,  however, isn’t super keen on this one as they are all nearing forty and she’d rather hit a beach and relax on a chaise with some cocktails. I have to say I totally agreed with that vacation choice. She was basically strong-armed into going on the rafting trip and reluctantly headed to REI to stock up. You see, none of them except perhaps Pia had any idea what was involved, what to buy, etc. They’d never been white water rafting before! They did all have some things in common in that they were each slightly damaged from events in their lives and were looking to escape even if it was just for 5 days and even if that meant driving 9 hours, camping, being wet, and braving a raging river.  And oh, by the way , NO cell signal for the whole 5 days. Can’t you just feel that something is bound to go wrong?

I thought the author did a wonderful job of setting the story up in the first few chapters. It is told from Wini’s perspective and we get important details about the struggles each of the friends have been dealing with in their own lives as well as a good indication of their friendship ties over the years. So, by the time they hit the river, I was very invested in each lady and I especially liked Rachel, Wini, and Sandra. I even liked Rory the guide. The characters became real which just points to brilliant writing. And I was extremely worried about them because you know what else became real…the river! I literally couldn’t turn the pages fast enough once the action began and for the rest of the book I’d catch myself holding my breath. With her breathtaking, detailed writing Erica Ferencik put me right in the river as well as smack in the middle of the woods at night with them. And there are bad things looming in both places you can count on that! And the twists…I literally gasped out loud at one of them and had to re-read the section to be sure that what I had just read was true.  Upon finishing this tension filled read my first thought was…now THAT’s how you write a thriller!!

5/5 Stars

**Releasing Jan 10, 2017

**Thanks to Simon & Schuster, Jellybooks, and Erica Ferencik for providing my copy of this highly enjoyable novel

STANDALONE SUNDAY: LITTLE BLACK LIES By Sharon Bolton

standalone-sunday

Standalone Sunday is a fun feature created by Megan at Bookslayerreads where each Sunday you feature a standalone book (not part of a series) that you loved or would recommend. There’s so much focus on books that are part of a series… she thought it’d be nice to focus on some standalone novels, too!

Feel free to join in on this weekly feature by creating your own Standalone Sunday post! And be sure to check out Megan’s very creative blog and leave a link in her Standalone Sunday comments section so she can add your blog to the list

My Standalone Pick is:

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From Goodreads

Published May, 2015 from Minotaur Books

My Rating: 5 Stars

In such a small community as the Falkland Islands, a missing child is unheard of. In such a dangerous landscape it can only be a terrible tragedy, surely…

When another child goes missing, and then a third, it’s no longer possible to believe that their deaths were accidental, and the villagers must admit that there is a murderer among them. Even Catrin Quinn, a damaged woman living a reclusive life after the accidental deaths of her own two sons a few years ago, gets involved in the searches and the speculation.

And suddenly, in this wild and beautiful place that generations have called home, no one feels safe and the hysteria begins to rise.

But three islanders—Catrin, her childhood best friend, Rachel, and her ex-lover Callum—are hiding terrible secrets. And they have two things in common: all three of them are grieving, and none of them trust anyone, not even themselves.

If you’ve visited my blog much since I started at the end of Sept., you may have noticed that I love Sharon Bolton‘s books! I’ve reviewed Daisy in Chains and highlighted her Lacey Flint series in one of my tags and here I go again with Little Black Lies🙂 This book has all the makings that I look for in a must-read…intriguing characters with secrets, an atmospheric setting, a mystery that even using my best detective skills I couldn’t figure out, and the topper of all  – a twist that I didn’t see coming from 5 miles away! Seriously, I had to go back a couple pages and keep re-reading the passage because it just blew me away. If you love mysteries filled with suspense and twists, you really need to give this fantastic standalone a try

AUDIOBOOK REVIEW: YOU By Caroline Kepnes. Narrated By Santino Fontana

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FROM GOODREADS

When a beautiful, aspiring writer strides into the East Village bookstore where Joe Goldberg works, he does what anyone would do: he Googles the name on her credit card.

There is only one Guinevere Beck in New York City. She has a public Facebook account and Tweets incessantly, telling Joe everything he needs to know: she is simply Beck to her friends, she went to Brown University, she lives on Bank Street, and she’ll be at a bar in Brooklyn tonight—the perfect place for a “chance” meeting.

As Joe invisibly and obsessively takes control of Beck’s life, he orchestrates a series of events to ensure Beck finds herself in his waiting arms. Moving from stalker to boyfriend, Joe transforms himself into Beck’s perfect man, all while quietly removing the obstacles that stand in their way—even if it means murder.

******

To just read the above blurb you might think this is your typical crazy guy stalks girl novel and you might decide to pass it by, saying to yourself ‘I don’t really want to read an entire book about a stalker.’  I know this because it’s what I did when this novel was first released and I’m completely kicking myself for the fact that I could’ve been reading this 2 years ago!! It was the through the power of social media ( I sound like Joe:) that made me decide to listen to this last week when my friend Sam of Cluesandreviews.com  told me to get off the fence about this book and read it! And off the fence I jumped.  As I was in need of an audiobook for my drives, dog walking, etc I downloaded YOU and I can’t possibly express how outstanding the writing and narration of this book is…you just HAVE to read and/or listen for yourself.

As the story begins, we are introduced to Joe Goldberg, bookseller extraordinaire.  Joe manages a bookstore in New York City and one day meets the lovely Guinevere Beck, “Beck” to her friends, and he’s immediately smitten with her. So instead of asking her to have coffee or something remotely normal like that, he gets her name off her credit card and sets about to googling her and just like that, he’s privy to her address, phone number, Twitter and Instagram which of course gives him a wealth of info about her habits and whereabouts. First of all, I’m now going to think twice every time I use my credit card! Second, Caroline Kepnes has hit on the very terrifying consequences of putting all your “stuff” on social media. Now, I know I just said terrifying and it is, but on the other side of this crazy coin we have Joe.  Believe me when I say I’ve NEVER encountered a fictional character quite like Joe before. His continuous  monologue to Beck, who’s the YOU of this story,  shifts between being funny, witty, and charming one moment to intense, crude and oftentimes downright scary the next. Through Joe, Caroline Kepnes brilliantly skewers social media…the good, bad and ugly of a  hashtag here I am way of life.

Let me just sum up my top reasons for loving this story and audiobook:

Characterization – as I said Joe will get inside your head while he slowly and unknowingly (to her) infiltrates Beck’s life and you won’t be able to turn the pages fast enough or in my case, remove my headphones for hours at a time

Pacing – The story starts with an immediacy of action between the characters and doesn’t let up until the dysfunctional ties of Joe and Beck have either been firmly established or spectacularly broken.

The Writing – Caroline Kepnes has wrote a book that left me speechless at times. Her writing flows in a way I don’t often come across. And her creative ability to write a character like Joe, who, let’s face it is a sociopath like none other, but one who I LIKED and thought was spot on in some of his ways of thinking and observations….what that says about me I’m still trying to figure out:)

The Narration – I listen to a lot of audiobooks and I have never heard a narrator capture the intensity, nuances, and downright scariness of a character like Santino Fontana does as Joe. Everything about his narration was perfect and let me tell you…for better or worse, he brings Joe ALIVE!  **One note to let readers and/or listeners know,  Joe often expresses himself using some very harsh and explicit language**

This book is the first in the series and, in my opinion, you absolutely MUST read this before Hidden Bodies.      

5/5 Stars

THROWBACK THURSDAY: LIVE BY NIGHT By Dennis Lehane

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I’m really liking the idea of continuing on with this Throwback Thursday theme every week. I like that these older books are usually much easier than new releases to get a hold of at libraries and elsewhere. My pick this week is:

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FROM GOODREADS

Published Oct 2012 by William Morrow 

My Rating: 5/5 Stars

Boston, 1926. The ’20s are roaring. Liquor is flowing, bullets are flying, and one man sets out to make his mark on the world.

Prohibition has given rise to an endless network of underground distilleries, speakeasies, gangsters, and corrupt cops. Joe Coughlin, the youngest son of a prominent Boston police captain, has long since turned his back on his strict and proper upbringing. Now having graduated from a childhood of petty theft to a career in the pay of the city’s most fearsome mobsters, Joe enjoys the spoils, thrills, and notoriety of being an outlaw.

But life on the dark side carries a heavy price. In a time when ruthless men of ambition, armed with cash, illegal booze, and guns, battle for control, no one–neither family nor friend, enemy nor lover–can be trusted. Beyond money and power, even the threat of prison, one fate seems most likely for men like Joe: an early death. But until that day, he and his friends are determined to live life to the hilt.

Joe embarks on a dizzying journey up the ladder of organized crime that takes him from the flash of Jazz Age Boston to the sensual shimmer of Tampa’s Latin Quarter to the sizzling streets of Cuba. Live by Night is a riveting epic layered with a diverse cast of loyal friends and callous enemies, tough rumrunners and sultry femmes fatales, Bible-quoting evangelists and cruel Klansmen, all battling for survival and their piece of the American dream. At once a sweeping love story and a compelling saga of revenge, it is a spellbinding tour de force of betrayal and redemption, music and murder, that brings fully to life a bygone era when sin was cause for celebration and vice was a national virtue

******

I’ve needed to find a spot for Dennis Lehane’s books on my blog and today’s the day! He’s at the very top of my favorite authors list. I love his writing, characters, settings, everything. I chose Live By Night this week because it’s part of one of my very favorite series. It actually starts with The Given Day which I haven’t read (it’s mammoth) and continues with Live By Night and World Gone By. I don’t feel that you have to read The Given Day first as I jumped right in with this title and was completely immersed. You may have also gotten a glimpse of the upcoming movie starring Ben Affleck!! I can’t wait , I think it releases this spring and I’m sure it will be as good as the book.

Feel free to leave jump on board with your own Throwback Thursday title. If you do, leave me a comment with a link so I can check it out. Otherwise, feel free to just comment with your favorite throwback titles so we can all add to our infinite TBR piles!

STANDALONE SUNDAY: A LITTLE LIFE by Hanya Yanagihara

standalone-sunday

Standalone Sunday is a feature created by Megan at Bookslayerreads where each Sunday you can feature a standalone book (not part of a series) that you loved or would recommend! There’s so much focus on books that are part of a series… she thought it’d be nice to focus on some standalone novels, too!

Feel free to join in on this weekly feature by creating your own Standalone Sunday post! Be sure to check out Megan’s very creative blog and leave a link in her Standalone Sunday comments section so she can add your blog to the list

MY PICK

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5 STARS

GOODREADS BLURB

When four classmates from a small Massachusetts college move to New York to make their way, they’re broke, adrift, and buoyed only by their friendship and ambition. There is kind, handsome Willem, an aspiring actor; JB, a quick-witted, sometimes cruel Brooklyn-born painter seeking entry to the art world; Malcolm, a frustrated architect at a prominent firm; and withdrawn, brilliant, enigmatic Jude, who serves as their center of gravity. Over the decades, their relationships deepen and darken, tinged by addiction, success, and pride. Yet their greatest challenge, each comes to realize, is Jude himself, by midlife a terrifyingly talented litigator yet an increasingly broken man, his mind and body scarred by an unspeakable childhood, and haunted by what he fears is a degree of trauma that he’ll not only be unable to overcome—but that will define his life forever.

This was my last official read of 2015. I started it the day after Christmas and was consumed by it for the next 4 days straight! This isn’t a book that would typically cross my radar but after listening to a podcast talk it up,  having a trusted book friend highly recommend it and it was short-listed for the Manbooker, I had to give it a try. That being said, this book may not be for everyone. There are some extremely hard to read about issues in this book…child abuse, self-harm. And the first 200 pages will have you questioning whether anything actually happens in this book. Don’t get me wrong, I kept reading because I liked getting to know these friends but I wanted something to happen! Rest assured, about that point in the book things will take a dark turn and you (most likely) will not put this book down until you know how it all will turn out for these friends. For me, this was ultimately a story about the healing power of friendship and love but also one of resilience and letting go. Have your tissues ready and, if you’re like me, be prepared for a super book hangover after reading this one.

 

 

THROWBACK THURSDAY: STILL MISSING by Chevy Stevens

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Published: July, 2010

Publisher: St.Martins Press

My Rating: 5 Stars

GOODREADS BLURB

On the day she was abducted, Annie O’Sullivan, a 32-year-old realtor, had three goals—sell a house, forget about a recent argument with her mother, and be on time for dinner with her ever-patient boyfriend. The open house is slow, but when her last visitor pulls up in a van as she’s about to leave, Annie thinks it just might be her lucky day after all.

Still Missing interweaves the year Annie spent as the captive of a psychopath in a remote mountain cabin, which unfold through sessions with her psychiatrist, with a second narrative following the events after her escape—her struggle to piece her shattered life back together and the ongoing police investigation into the identity of her captor.

Still Missing is a shocking, visceral, brutal and beautifully crafted novel. (less)

If you’re a fan of thrillers with shocking endings, this book is for you. It’s original, nail-biting and disturbing with an ending I never saw coming. The way the story unfolds creates so much suspense that you’ll want to read this book in one sitting so be prepared to clear your calendar for the day!!

AUDIOBOOK REVIEW:GETTING LIFE:AN INNOCENT MAN’S 25-YEAR JOURNEY FROM PRISON TO PEACE by Michael Morton. Narrated by Roger Wayne

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GOODREADS BLURB

He spent twenty-five years in prison for a crime he did not commit. He lost his wife, his son, and his freedom. This is the story of how Michael Morton finally got justice—and a second chance at life.

On August 13, 1986, just one day after his thirty-second birthday, Michael Morton went to work at his usual time. By the end of the day, his wife Christine had been savagely bludgeoned to death in the couple’s bed—and the Williamson County Sherriff’s office in Texas wasted no time in pinning her murder on Michael, despite an absolute lack of physical evidence. Michael was swiftly sentenced to life in prison for a crime he had not committed.

My Review

This story is haunting to say the least. Michael Morton went to work one morning and by the afternoon his life, as he knew it, was over. When and how he finds out that his wife Chris has been murdered in their bed, with their three year old son home , is heartbreaking. It’s hard to attribute positive words like fascinating and page turning to such a tragic story but that’s how I would describe the complete railroading and injustice that took place when the local sheriff’s department immediately zeroed in on Michael as the killer. How he was treated, questioned, and then arrested was mind boggling and I listened in a state of bewilderment.

I know I’m being somewhat vague but I don’t want to give away important plot details about the case because there’s so much that happens over the 25 years it took Michael Morton to get justice that you really need to listen, or read, for yourself. This being a memoir we get in depth, first hand accounts from Michael about what happened the day his wife was murdered,  how he felt, and what he was thinking and feeling. We also get his first hand account of life in prison for 25 years and his pursuit of and determination to get to the truth of who really murdered his wife Chris.

While this is a memoir, it’s also a real life mystery because there are questions about the case that the sheriff’s office completely ignored such as: what did Michael’s son who was 3 at the time, and home with his mom, actually see and hear? What about other physical evidence that was found on the property? Will these unanswered questions lead to the real killer? You’ll have to listen or read to find out!

This story caused me to feel so many things while listening…anger, sadness, confusion…it’s all there.  Sometimes, even if the story sounds interesting ,  I’ve found it hard to listen to a book because the narrator’s voice just didn’t work for me. That wasn’t the case with this audiobook, however, because the narrator, Roger Wayne, was fantastic. I recommended this book to my book club and they all read the print version and also loved it,  so either way you “get” this incredible true crime story you won’t be disappointed.

5/5 Stars 

REVIEW:A HUNDRED SUMMERS by Beatriz Williams

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GOODREADS BLURB

Memorial Day, 1938: New York socialite Lily Dane has just returned with her family to the idyllic oceanfront community of Seaview, Rhode Island, expecting another placid summer season among the familiar traditions and friendships that sustained her after heartbreak.

That is, until the Greenwalds decide to take up residence in Seaview.

Nick and Budgie Greenwald are an unwelcome specter from Lily’s past: her former best friend and her former fiancé, now recently married—an event that set off a wildfire of gossip among the elite of Seaview, who have summered together for generations. Budgie’s arrival to restore her family’s old house puts her once more in the center of the community’s social scene, and she insinuates herself back into Lily’s friendship with an overpowering talent for seduction…and an alluring acquaintance from their college days, Yankees pitcher Graham Pendleton. But the ties that bind Lily to Nick are too strong and intricate to ignore, and the two are drawn back into long-buried dreams, despite their uneasy secrets and many emotional obligations.

My Thoughts

This was my first Beatriz Williams book as well as one of the only historical fiction books I’ve read in years. I came across it this summer going through my very long list of books I’d bought when they were on sale for Kindle but which had gotten lost in my never ending TBR pile. I bought it at the time (last year) because the premise sounded interesting and I love a good romantic triangle drama.

The book begins in 1931 when Lily and Budgie are in college and attending a football game at a nearby school where Lily sees Nick for the first time. It’s definitely infatuation at first sight on Lily’s part. As we become interested and invested in seeing the evolving love relationship between Lily and Nick, the author switches time frames and bumps us to early summer 1938 and Lily is back at her parent’s beach house in Seaview, Rhode Island, alone and seemingly trying to get out of a “funk” due to what happened with Nick and Budgie. Here, we’re introduced to Kiki (Lily’s six year old sister?) as well as her Aunt Julie who’s quite the outspoken, brash one of the family.   When Budgie shows up in Seaview to open up her parent’s beach house for the summer, things get VERY interesting! You see Budgie is married to Nick now, and well…you just have to read this to find out how THAT  happened and how it all plays out. Hint: dramatically!

I actually loved the structure of the story and how it’s told with the alternating time frames which culminated when the Hurricane of 1938 hits Seaview. No one and nothing will be the same. I was very invested and connected with all these characters who I thought the author made multidimensional. And I say this even though I didn’t LIKE all the characters. Beatriz William’s writing is so atmospheric that I could picture the club’s veranda at dusk, see Lily relaxing and sipping her gin while the waves crashed on the shore in the background and feel her shock and panic when Budgie and Nick show up out of the blue at that exact moment. So yes there’s excellent writing going on here.

If you can’t already tell, I loved this book! Not only will I be reading Beatriz William’s other books as fast as I can, I’ll be first in line for her future novels as well. For those of you who, like me, don’t typically read historical fiction you just might be pleasantly surprised if you give this one a try. If you like drama, suspense, and well-developed characters this may be the book for you.

5/5 STARS  

THROWBACK THURSDAY:THE LAST CHILD By John Hart

 

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Courtesy of Fabonlinemagazine.com

I wanted to do a weekly post to share a book from the past…either one I’ve read and loved or one that I still want to read that’s gotten lost in my TBR pile…so I thought Throwback Thursday would be a good day to do it!

 

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Published: 2009

Read & My Rating: 5/5 Stars  

GOODREADS BLURB

Thirteen year-old Johnny Merrimon had the perfect life: a warm home and loving parents; a twin sister, Alyssa, with whom he shared an irreplaceable bond. He knew nothing of loss, until the day Alyssa vanished from the side of a lonely street. Now, a year later, Johnny finds himself isolated and alone, failed by the people he’d been taught since birth to trust. No one else believes that Alyssa is still alive, but Johnny is certain that she is—confident in a way that he can never fully explain.

Determined to find his sister, Johnny risks everything to explore the dark side of his hometown. It is a desperate, terrifying search, but Johnny is not as alone as he might think. Detective Clyde Hunt has never stopped looking for Alyssa either, and he has a soft spot for Johnny. He watches over the boy and tries to keep him safe, but when Johnny uncovers a dangerous lead and vows to follow it, Hunt has no choice but to intervene.

Then a second child goes missing…

If you like extremely well-written and plotted mysteries then this book is for you. John Hart’s writing is top notch as he draws you into these characters lives, especially Johnny’s, and you won’t want to stop turning the pages until you, like Johnny, find out what happened to his sister. Highly recommended!