drives away from her sister-in-law’s pristine-white suburban house in Maple Falls certain she’s left her daughter in safe hands. On the hottest day of the year, a birthday is the perfect excuse to gather friends, family and neighbors around the pool for a barbecue. But when she returns hours later to find her little girl has vanished, her world shatters.
Nobody laughing and drinking in the garden that day saw anything unusual.
Kathy’s eldest daughter is anxious and hardly eating. Is she sick with worry for her sister, or hiding a terrible secret?
The phone rings and rings, but why can’t Kathy get hold of the babysitter?
And is she imagining it, or when her husband rushed from work to join the search, was he wearing a different shirt to the one she saw him leave the house in that morning?
As the temperature rises, and long-buried secrets begin to surface, it’s clear that even the most perfect families keep devastating secrets. But in a town as small as this, is there anyone you can trust?
ABOUT THE AUTHOR:
Author: Wendy Dranfield
Genre: Psychological Thriller
Format: Kindle ARC
No. of Pages: 376
Date of Publication: January 7, 2022
My Rating: 4 Stars
How many parents drop their child off at a birthday party, say goodbye and walk away? When Kathy Hamilton drops off little Charlotte at her sister-in-law's house for her nephews' birthday party she doesn't have a care in the world. After all, this is family. And there are a lot of adults around.
Later when her teenage daughter arrives home, Kathy and her husband Mitch look at one another and ask where is Charlie? They are not altogether worried, as the babysitter Megan Carter was supposed to pick up Charlie and drop her off at home. So, where is Megan? And, yes, where is Charlie?
More than one jaw-droping twist kept me riveted to this intense story by Wendy Dranfield. In short, Charlie is nowhere to be found and just about anyone could be responsible. In fact, the police are trained to look at the family first. Could Kathy or Mitch have had anything to do with Charlie's disappearance?
Then there is Fay, Kathy and Mitch's sensitive teenaged daughter who is struggling with eating disorders and who is also in counseling. How will Fay fare if Charlie isn't found safe and sound? Also, the perfect family of four just not be like it seems. In fact, Charlie's disappearance indeed prove that their strong foundation of family was definitely not as secure as it appeared. Hidden secrets are slowly revealed as the search for Charlie gains traction.
What an amazing story, one that was sad, intriguing and heartwarming, all in one. Hard to imagine that this book could take so many turns and still left me with just a bit of hope for the characters.
Many thanks to Bookouture and to NetGalley for this ARC for review. This is my honest opinion.
Wendy is a former coroner's assistant turned crime writer who lives in the UK with her husband and 3 cats.
Her first novel (The Girl Who Died) was longlisted for the Mslexia Novel Competition. Since then she has written two crime series - one follows Officer Dean Matheson on his quest to make detective, and the other is her current series which follows Detective Madison Harper as she tries to reclaim her life after spending six years in prison for a murder she didn't commit.
As well as crime novels Wendy also has short stories published in various anthologies in the UK and the US, and she has been shortlisted and longlisted for various writing competitions.
Wendy's social media:
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