The disappearance of two young girls is at the heart of Redhead’s (Dead Man Calling, 2012) engaging new mystery.
High school student Melissa Gardner disappeared without a trace from her seemingly happy, middle-class family. There are no leads to follow, despite a dedicated effort by the local police department. Rebellious Amber Torley is intrigued and mildly concerned, but it’s not until her own best friend goes missing that she launches herself into the investigation. Amber, a troubled yet smart young woman, lives in an abusive household with her parents and younger sister. She turns to crime, drugs and sex in an attempt to earn money and escape from her violent father and mousy mother and sister. While she hates her home, she’s one misstep away from being kicked out of the house and ending up on the streets, in prison or dead. School is no better than home. Amber is on the verge of being expelled, she refuses to apply herself in the classroom, and she’s often the ringleader behind various acts of theft and vandalism. However, the mysterious disappearances change Amber’s life in ways she could never have anticipated. The solid presence and trust of handsome inspector Robert Lambert provide Amber with much-needed emotional support, pushing her to step toward a brighter future. The investigation not only turns up the truth behind the disappearances, but it reveals monumental secrets about Amber’s past that provide her with an opportunity to escape and start again. The transition from truant to success story isn’t easy, and Amber struggles to find her place in the world. Redhead’s mystery serves as a wonderful modern and gritty fairy tale. Amber’s thoughts and emotions are clearly drawn, rendering her outwardly ridiculous decisions almost understandable. The supporting cast of characters is strong and believable, though none truly share Amber’s spotlight. The author keeps the narrative moving, tying up the loose ends while resisting the urge to provide a typical “fairy tale” love story at its conclusion.
A satisfying mystery that leaves one hoping for another installment in the story of Amber Torley.