REVIEW: AFTER ANNA, BY ALEX LAKE

A girl is missing. Five years old, taken from outside her school. She has vanished, traceless.

The police are at a loss; her parents are beyond grief. Their daughter is lost forever, perhaps dead, perhaps enslaved.

But the biggest mystery is yet to come: one week after she was abducted, their daughter is returned.

She has no memory of where she has been. And this, for her mother, is just the beginning of the nightmare.

 

The parents in After Anna are Brian and Julia, and their marriage is on the outs for unrelated issues. The plan was to separate, but then Anna was taken. As soon as Anna is returned, Julia has only a few rare moments of peace before the worst of the nightmare begins.

Throughout the time that Anna has been missing, vitriol was spewed on Julia from the press in an unending onslaught. Who is leaking information to them, and why are they twisting everything?

Meanwhile, the perpetrator carries on his/her internal monologue, advising the reader of the future plan to keep the target pointed on the family, especially Julia.

On the other hand, why is Edna, Brian’s mother, who has never liked Julia, manipulating everything and turning Brian against Julia? She is a very unpleasant character and is most likely up to no good.

As the intensity ratchets up, the reader is offered a close-up view of the insanity of our perpetrator’s mind. I had the identity figured out before the end, but a glimpse into the twisted mind of the evil person was so intense I could not stop reading. I was biting my nails, and kept following the actions until the anti-climactic conclusion. 5 stars

***

REVIEW: FIND HER, BY LISA GARDNER

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Who is Flora Dane, and what has happened to her during the time she was held captive? For 472 days, Jacob Ness, a long haul trucker, held her captive after kidnapping her in Florida while she was on spring break from her Boston college. Now, seven years later, she is attacked again, after two years home, and something unexpected happens during that event. Her Victim Advocate, Samuel Keynes, comes running when she calls. What is the nature of the special relationship between these two? Close-mouthed and hiding secrets, they know more than they are saying.

Or so believes Sergeant Detective D. D. Warren, who is called to a horrific scene near a garage in a Boston neighborhood. What she discovers is unexpected…and changes how she sees the “victim.”

As D. D. tries to piece together Flora’s story, from the past and now the present, we catch a glimpse of how she works, and what her life looks like these days. Felled by an injury, she is on “desk duty,” supposedly, but more often than not we’ll see her in the midst of the action. I always love D. D. Warren’s unique perspective on events, and enjoy visualizing a birds-eye view of how she pieces together the puzzles of her daily life as a detective. And then there is her home life. Her husband Alex, her four-year-old son Jack. These aspects of her world soften the hard edges she needs for her work. But at a moment’s notice, she is back in her detective mode, focused and skilled.

Keynes shares very little, but some believe that Flora has been on a mission to find other missing girls, specifically, Stacey Summers.

We learn more about Flora’s story through her first person narrative that takes us into the past and slowly reveals more about her very strange world. Then, after recent events, we watch current events unfold from her perspective. From inside a box to moments outside, rewarded with food and opportunities. Meeting others along the way. How would those meetings come back to haunt her in the future? Her narrative is vivid and descriptive, taking the reader into the box and captivity along with her.

Why, after this second attack, and after being home for two years, has Flora gone missing again? Who has taken her? Her first captor is dead. Isn’t he? And how is this latest event different?

Find Her is the kind of story that is both fast-paced and made up of slowly unfolding moments: first, there is the action going on in the exterior world, and then the detailed moments in Flora’s interior world. From Flora’s perspective, we learn some of her survival skills, like how she set aside her past life into a box. The memories of her life before captivity are inconsistent with her life as an inanimate object. Her advocate Samuel Keynes shares: “Survival isn’t a destination. It’s a journey. And most of the people I help, they’re still getting there.”

Stunning revelations provide the answers to all the questions, and the reader cannot help but rapidly read until the final denouement. 5 stars.

REVIEW: TOUCH & GO, BY LISA GARDNER

91Ey0TK4fqL._SL1500_Justin and Libby Denbe are having a date night.

After several months of struggling with their marriage, following Justin’s infidelity, they are trying to put it all back together again.

But Libby has a secret. And so does Justin. And then, before the night is over, the whole family, including Justin, Libby, and teenaged daughter Ashlyn, will be abducted by three men who apparently know secret codes and override codes. They know enough to make everyone trying to solve this case believe that the kidnapping is an inside job.

Tessa Leoni, an investigator hired by Denbe Construction, is a former highway patrol officer who now has chosen the private sector because of her own demons.

When Wyatt Foster enters the case, it is after signs reveal that the kidnappers have taken the hostages north, to New Hampshire. His jurisdiction. The trail goes cold at some point, however, as the GPS device inside Justin’s jacket has been cut out and tossed.

FBI agent Nicole Adams is officially in charge, but all are working together to find out who is behind the kidnapping, and where the victims have been taken.

Will each of their secrets divide them and place them more at risk? Or will they finally pull together, as they all huddle in their “prison” with the abductors? How does the situation take an unexpected twist by a revelation that turns everything into a whole new game?

Touch & Go, narrated alternately by the various law enforcement officers, was also told in the first-person voice of Libby Denbe. I liked this style, as I felt I could see inside each of the officers while they worked to bring the Denbes home; and I could also intimately experience the pain and suffering of the victims through Libby’s perspective as she revealed her thoughts and feelings.

A captivating story that had me rapidly turning pages, guessing who among the close-knit group of insiders could have done this dastardly deed, and then realizing I was off the mark. And then, at the end, the shocking reveal made perfect sense. The author left me feeling a great sense of relief when all the pieces finally fell into place. Definitely recommended for those who love a great suspense tale. Five stars.