Let me just start by saying that reading this book is one heck of an emotional rollercoaster. Helen Callaghan crafted an interesting, compelling, and surprising mystery that keeps you guessing until the very end. My jaw is sore from it dropping so many times at the twists and turns the story takes! (Ok, not really, but you get what I’m saying.)
Margot Lewis is a high school teacher who also writes an advice column called “Dear Amy” for her local newspaper, The Examiner. She’s struggling with the ongoing divorce with her soon-to-be ex-husband, Eddy, who cheated on her with his boss Arabella and continues to toy with her emotions. Despite the hurt caused by Eddy’s betrayal, she tries to throw herself into her work and try be as nonchalant as possible about the fact that she will soon be a nearly middle-aged divorcee. She has bigger things to worry about in her life, such as the disappearance of one of her students, fifteen year-old Katie Browne. The cops have deemed her a runaway and aren’t investigating her disappearance, which troubles Margot deeply.
One evening as she is going through her newest batch of “Dear Amy” letters for her column, she finds a letter with no return address and opens it to reveal a letter written in childish script from someone claiming to be a girl who disappeared nearly twenty years ago and has long been assumed to be dead, Bethan Avery. Whoever wrote the letter claims she is being held prisoner in a basement and needs help because she fears her captor is going to kill her, and pleads for someone to find her. Feeling shaken by the letter, she assumes that the letter is just some sick prank. There is no way this could be a real letter from Bethan, how would she be able to send a letter if she were being held prisoner as she describes? Margot dismisses the letter and goes about her life until a second letter arrives, which leads her even more shaken and confused.
All she knows about Bethan Avery is that she disappeared after visiting her grandmother, who was also her guardian after her mother had run off, in the hospital. After she disappeared, her grandmother died, and it was discovered that her grandmother had not just slipped on ice and hit her head like the police initially assumed, she had been beaten to death. Margot decides to look deeper into the details of Bethan’s kidnapping and assumed murder. She finds little on the internet, so turns to the local library and finds more information about the case and learns more about Bethan Avery. In one of the books she finds pictures of Bethan’s diary pages, which is written in the same childish script that the letters are written in. Feeling shocked, she immediately decides to take the letters to the police, who basically laugh her off and don’t take her seriously whatsoever. However, soon after her visit to the police, she receives an e-mail from a senior criminologist named Martin Forrester who had found out about the letters, and asks Margot if she’d meet with him to discuss them. She agrees, and the two meet up a few days later. As they discuss the letters, Martin tells Margot that they believe that the Bethan Avery case and the recent disappearance of Katie Browne are connected, as well as a string of other disappearances and murders that all seemed to have they same MO. The girls were all similar looking, around the same age, and there were many more similarities that had initially been overlooked until Martin and his team of investigators started to recognize a pattern. Margot is stunned, and wondering why whoever is writing these letters chose to send them to her. As she works closer with Martin and the investigation reveals more evidence, it’s clear that whoever may murdered Bethan Avery is the same person who is responsible for the disappearance of Katie Browne, and her life depends on their ability to find her captor. Due to Margot’s dark past, being involved in the investigation begins to bring up long buried memories that deeply trouble her. She remains involved in the investigation, but as certain things come to light, it becomes obvious that the letter being sent to her was no accident and she may have more to do with the Bethan Avery case than she ever imagined. The closer she and Martin come to finding more clues, the more troubled Margot becomes, and it’s clear that she may also be in danger. The more entangled Margot becomes in the case and certain details come to light, her life is turned upside down, causing her to question everything she knows about herself and she is unaware of just how much danger she is in.
That’s all the information I want to give away because this book is so juicy with twists and turns and crazy plot twists that become more and more shocking as you read on. Helen Callaghan has a real talent for keeping you guessing until the last page, and this book was impossible to put down. It is so cleverly written, and the characters become more interesting the more you find out about them. The story is filled with suspense, mystery, and plot twists that never disappoint. I fully recommend this book to all fans of mystery and thrillers.
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