Margot Lewis is a school teacher by day and an ‘agony aunt’ in her free time. She answers letters with advice to those who seek it on matters of life and the heart for the local paper. On a personal note, she is in the throes of seeking a divorce from her unfaithful husband of almost three years. What she first thought would be an amicable severing of their marriage is starting to turn nasty.
When Margot receives a letter from a woman who was abducted close to two decades previously, she reports it to the police and becomes friendly with Martin Forrester, a man who studies and analyses historical criminal cases.
“The lines that define the normal and forbidden are tissue-paper thin”
It is late autumn in Cambridge, England and the nights are closing in… Schoolgirl Katie Browne in a fit of pique, packs her backpack one evening and walks out of her home after an argument with her mother and stepfather. Just at the point when Katie realizes her foolishness and decides to return home, she is abducted by a deeply troubled man.
When Margot realizes that it is possible that this woman who is writing her letters might in some way be connected to Katie Browne’s disappearance, her life will take a turn for the worse – and will bring about danger to herself…
“Things once known, can never be unknown.”
At first I thought this was just another ‘abducted girls’ thriller. The more I read, the more I realized that this one was unique in several ways. An outstanding debut novel with a few plot twists that will be appreciated by many a reader.
Written largely from the points of view of Margot Lewis and the kidnapped girl, Katie Browne, the narrative seems to increase in urgency, the more time that elapses. Plot twists, one in particular, will turn the narrative on its head. Granted, I had guessed at the twist, but then I read a lot of thrillers. This one was written with finesse though just a wee tad ‘over the top’ in a few places.
The setting was vividly described, and the reader could almost feel the discomfort and cold of the dark, dank cellar where Katie was being held. The principal characters were ones that the reader could empathize with.
In short, this is a debut novel that I truly enjoyed and will avidly seek out some of the author’s newer books.
This review was written voluntarily and my rating was in no way influenced by the fact that I received a complimentary digital copy of this novel from
HarperCollins via Edelweiss.
ISBN: 9780062433923 – 352 pages
Helen Callaghan was born in Los Angeles, California, to British parents, and her early years were spent in both the US and UK. After several early false starts as a nurse, barmaid and actor, she settled into bookselling, working as a fiction specialist and buyer for a variety of bookshops. Eventually, she studied for her A-Levels at night school and achieved a place at Cambridge University as a mature student.
Helen is the Sunday Times bestselling author of Dear Amy, Everything is Lies, and Night Falls, Still Missing.
Follow Helen Callaghan on Twitter: @hecallaghan
Somehow I wasn’t familiar with the term “agony aunt”, even though I could use plenty of advice myself! Google clued me in.
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Google has been there for me on many occasions Neil. 😉