Author Larry Crane has penned an
absorbing novel of the unremitting fear, pain, and guilt parents go
through when their child is abducted. He has chosen to distinguish it
from similar storylines by inserting an event that actually happened,
then fictionalizing elements of that crime to interweave with his
primary tale. The result is a complex yet credible story rich in both
emotional and dramatic detail.
Set initially in Naperville, a suburb of Chicago, the book grabs readers’ attention from the beginning as a mother finds her child is not in the classroom where she’s supposed to be. Tension rises as a search of the school grounds and the immediate vicinity proves futile. Local law enforcement gets involved. Then the FBI is brought in as hours, days, and weeks begin to pass with virtually no clues as to what really happened to the missing girl.
Crane focuses the bulk of his tale on the gut-wrenching ordeal the parents are put through as time passes and the child’s disappearance continues to be a mystery. Emotions are laid bare as this upscale family’s life is torn asunder. The mother, Marcella, is racked with guilt that turns from abject fear to near catatonia. The father, Gavin, in an attempt to cling to some form of normalcy for his wife and other children, overcompensates as the nagging horror begins to set in that they may never see their daughter again.
Time goes by. Weeks becomes months. More than a year passes. In a last ditch effort to change the downward trajectory of the couple’s unraveling marriage, the decision is made to move and try to start anew. Unknowingly, the New Jersey community they move into is the locale of a child murder that happened years before. Marcella becomes engrossed in that awful event. She comes to believe that by unearthing the real story of what happened to the girl who was killed there, she might in some way atone for what she hasn’t been able to accomplish in her own daughter’s abduction. Her quest eventually leads to a confrontation with the man convicted of the New Jersey crime—an individual who embodies the evil she prays her own lost child is not facing.
Crane has skillfully fashioned a compelling novel. His dramatization of stoic police procedures juxtaposed against the emotionally charged reactions of fearful family members, rings with credibility. His prose reads swiftly, never slowing for superficial sentimentality, yet never avoiding the sadness and despair inherent in every parent’s worst nightmare. The inclusion of a true and infamous event that involved high-powered celebrities such as William F. Buckley and others, adds a layer of interest and involvement that may have readers looking for additional information long after they’ve turned the last page.
This is an intelligent thriller that feels ripped-from-the-headlines. To his credit, the author excites without an overdependence on gore, and creates suspense without an overreliance on cliffhangers. It is a harrowing account that once started, will have you eagerly coming back again and again until you reach this novel’s end.
RECOMMENDED by The US Review