Nora de Jong’s life is turned upside down when she comes home from work to find her mother murdered and her infant daughter gone; following the minute clues leads her to some devastating secrets from her family’s past and a violent legacy of betrayal and resentment.
Suddenly, in one tragic moment, Nora goes from being blissfully happy to being distraught over her mother’s murder and her daughter’s disappearance. But there is another body at the scene of the crime, someone Nora doesn’t know. Why he would be there and what he has to do with her daughter’s abduction are driving questions that will force Nora to re-examine everything she knows about her Dutch parents, their past and her heritage. Following what seems like bread crumbs, Nora winds up in Amsterdam and the dusty archives of the War Institute, where endless files and records from the Nazi occupation are kept. What she finds there will shed light on Europe’s dark history during World War II and the suffering the Dutch populace endured under Hitler’s brutal grip. She will learn that her own family’s history reflected a microcosm of the violence and confusion of savage times and that the hate and misunderstanding of war can shadow generations. Author van Heugten’s novel plots an ambitious mystery that blends historical elements with a modern kidnapping arc. As Nora seeks clues to find her daughter, she must research her family’s history and uncover the secrets of her past; along the way, the author takes the opportunity to highlight some forgotten details of Dutch wartime history. This is a worthy and noble story, but there are too many moments that don’t quite work—awkward segues, simplistic character reactions, graceless dialogue. However, the arcs will keep readers engaged, and this war-torn family drama will win fans despite its weaknesses.
Flawed yet gripping.