Author – Lisa Gardner
Published – 2013
Genre – Crime fiction
After a run of so-so books I seem to have hit a batch of really good ones – which is something of a relief, and this book had been sitting on my shelf for a while, courtesy of Headline Books. I have a very vague recollection of reading Gardner’s first book (A Perfect Husband) but it’s not something that stands out for me and I don’t remember thinking I needed to look out for other titles – I may now have to re-think that! Although the references I found suggested that the book is a standalone I think that some of the characters who appear may be recurring ones.
This is the story of a kidnapping which is told from two main points of view. The first is that of Libby – wife to Justin, the successful owner of a construction company, and mother to Ashlyn their teenage daughter. Returning home from a meal out with Justin all three of them are attacked and abducted from their house.
We’re privy to Libby’s thoughts and memories as the family is brutally assaulted and driven off to a surprising location. During their incarceration we find out more about the family’s dynamics and the impact that throwing the three of them together in a perilous situation has on what was a pretty dysfunctional family. A fair proportion of the story concerns the relationships and the background to the situation the family is in at the time of the kidnapping.
It’s perhaps something of a cliché to say a book is tricky to review because you don’t want to give too much away, but this really kept me guessing. The mystery of who could have organised the attack on the family is well-plotted and we follow some of the investigators as they work to try to understand what has happened to them. There are some great characters here and a burgeoning relationship between two of the main ones. It was interesting to see both sides of the story as they search for the family, but as the reader you already know where they are. It’s something I would normally find irritating (wanting to shout “they’re over there!” while I’m reading) but the execution avoided that feeling.
I didn’t actually like the character of Libby very much – she came across as weak and I did find the navel gazing a bit self-indulgent, but this was a really good story.
Score – 4/5