This stunning debut novel from Paula Daly is a breathtaking tale of ostensibly normal lives torn asunder. Lisa Kallisto, who runs an animal shelter, lives in a small village holding 260 houses in the English Lake district. Just a few days before Christmas, her best friend’s thirteen-year-old daughter disappears, and the only thing more horrifying to Lisa is the fact that it appears to have been her fault. The author makes palpable the guilt which wracks the overworked and overwhelmed mother of three. And apparently this is not the first adolescent girl in the area to have been kidnapped, nor is she the last. As Lisa says: “There is nothing as bad as a missing child. Nothing at all.”
The investigation is headed up by D.C. Joanne Aspinall of the CID. Both women are in their late thirties, and the author focuses much of the book on these two women, wonderfully well-drawn, as are the other characters. The book is not as dark as one might expect, dealing as it does with such perverted acts. It is certainly suspenseful. Not edge-of-your-seat suspenseful, perhaps, at least until Day 4.
As the tale comes to a close, what came to mind was my mother’s old adage: One never knows what goes on behind someone else’s closed doors. And everyone has a secret (or two). I read this novel in just over 24 hours, and it is highly recommended.