The setting is a small Cornwall village. Cara goes to her friend Grace’s house to find the severely disabled teenage girl missing and her mother killed. The chief suspect is Grace’s father, Simon, who is mentally unstable and estranged from the family. Cara is determined to find Grace. She is aided by Jon, a journalist who took Simon’s side in an article years earlier about the family tragedy and has suffered the calumny of the town and the press for it. Jon, tritely, is also having marital troubles and neglects his parental duties as he delves deeper into the case.
It seemed like a good setup, but I can barely squeeze out three stars for it. None of the characters are likeable and the writing is pedestrian at best. The police seem to be doing almost nothing while Jon and Cara more or less stumble about and somehow figure out what’s going on but without any real sleuthing. Grace’s diary plays a big role, yet the police totally miss it in their crime scene search. Entries from it appear normally at first, i.e., one of the characters reads the page and they are printed so we can see them, but later entries from the diary just appear amid chapters without explanation and apparently without the characters becoming aware of the content. I found this clumsy and confusing.
There is a “big reveal” about two-thirds of the way through the book, but the author telegraphed it so heavily beforehand that it would be hard to be surprised. I was planning a two-star review until the very end when the author partially redeemed herself. She added a twist that made the story both more credible and somewhat more nuanced.