Sara-Jayne Townsend is a published crime and horror writer and likes books in which someone dies horribly. She is founder and Chair Person of the T Party Writers’ Group. http://sarajaynetownsend.weebly.com/
Eleven years ago, troubled teenager Emma Thorley went missing. DI Michael Gardner is still plagued by feelings of guilt that he did not try hard enough to find Emma, who had a history of running away, at the time.
Now, when the body of a young woman is unearthed in a shallow grave, all signs pointing to it being Emma’s remains, Gardner is determined to pick up the case and discover once and for all what happened to Emma.
The plot of the book unfolds gradually over two timelines – one set in 1999, which tells the story of Emma’s troubled past and what actually did happen to her – and in parallel, the events of 2010 starting with the discovery of the body in the woods and the investigation of DI Gardner and his partner DS Nicola Freeman as they try to solve the case.
The fact that Emma was adopted and there are no blood relatives around to check DNA against to confirm the identity of the body is a plausible explanation as to why there is so much uncertainty around the identity of the remains. The two timelines unravel neatly, in a way that is easy to follow, and by the time we get to the ‘big reveal’ as to what did actually happen to Emma in 1999, the 2010 timeline has caught up and Gardner and Freeman have already worked it out. And most likely, so has the reader.
You will be gripped by this suspenseful story and want to keep reading to the end. Not all the characters are likeable. In fact some of them, like Emma’s misogynistic boyfriend at the time of her disappearance, Lucas Yates, are downright despicable. But even the unpleasant characters come across as realistic, and you will still want to know what happens to them at the end.
This novel is very neatly plotted, with the two different threads expertly manipulating the reader down separate paths that come together into an explosive and satisfactory ending. It’s an accomplished and well-written tale from an emerging new talent who will be well worth watching in future.