What would you do if your spouse suddenly became the prime suspect in the kidnapping of a two-year-old girl? That’s the stomach-churning prospect that confronts London hairdresser Jean Taylor in this exceptional debut from British journalist Barton, who circles her story as if it were a lurking panther, unseen but viscerally sensed. The main action occurs in 2010, with flashbacks to little Bella Elliott’s headline-dominating disappearance from her home in Southampton in 2006. Multiple narrators maximize suspense, with perspectives switching among tough-to-read Jean, whose husband, Glen, has just been fatally hit by a bus at the book’s start; haunted Det. Insp. Bob Sparkes, the lead investigator, whose career the case jeopardizes; and tabloid reporter Kate Waters, most resourceful of the frenzied journalistic pack chasing the story. Though Barton stumbles slightly down the homestretch, tipping what should be her biggest bombshell, she tells her tale with a realism and restraint that add to its shattering impact. Author tour. Agent: Madeleine Milburn, Madeleine Milburn Literary Agency (U.K.). (Feb.)
Reviewed on: 11/30/2015 Release date: 02/16/2016 Genre: Fiction
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