Annalise Williams, 24, is obsessed with an unsolved crime: the disappearance and presumed murder years earlier of a 16-year-old girl with the same first name: Annalise Wood—"the kind of girl you look at and think, of course someone would want to take her."
Williams is already obsessed with the case when DNA evidence collected at the original crime scene is newly linked to someone who may be a suspect or witness but appears to have a solid alibi for the time of Annalise Wood's disappearance. Detectives Chloe Frohmann, on leave to care for her infant daughter, and Morris Keene, newly assigned to the cold-case squad, struggle to redefine their professional relationship as they investigate the reopened case. Meanwhile, psychologist Laurie Ambrose becomes curious about Annalise Wood when two seemingly unrelated patients, one of them Annalise Williams, mention her during their therapy sessions. Chapters from the perspectives of Williams, Ambrose, and the detectives heighten the mystery of who is telling the truth and who might not be. Transcripts of the therapy sessions and email messages belatedly discovered in a spam folder late in the novel stand out as clumsy minor devices in an otherwise impressively twisty and flawlessly constructed plot. The tension ramps up when an accident—or was it murder?—occurs, Keene and Frohmann untangle truths and lies, Ambrose fears part of the case may hit close to home, and Annalise Williams is forced to confront the secrets in her own family's tangled history.
An intriguing, suspenseful, and briskly paced story with complex characters, evocative descriptions of England's Cambridgeshire, plenty of clever misdirection, and a satisfying ending.