When a teenage girl goes missing after a wild camping trip in Lodge's debut thriller, those involved must live with uncertainty for 30 years, until her body is found.
Seven teenagers go into the forest in southeast England; only six return. Thirty years later, Aurora Jackson’s body is found near the campsite where she disappeared. DCI Jonah Sheens, a young policeman when Aurora went missing and only a few years ahead of her in school, has personal connections to the case; he remembers the first unrelenting rounds of interviews that never turned into leads, and he knows that, with a body in hand, it will be only a matter of time before Aurora’s killer is exposed. There were six others in the woods that night—Aurora’s beautiful, wild older sister, Topaz; wealthy, connected Daniel; tattooed, volatile Connor; independent tomboy Jojo; childlike Coralie; and handsome star athlete Brett, the newest member of the group. Most of them were drunk and some high, so their recollections of the night have never been clear, but they have maintained their innocence and served as one another’s alibis. But time can erode even the deepest devotion and friendship. Lodge alternates chapters between the present day, starting with the finding of the body, and the night of Aurora’s disappearance. The characters are presented both as teenagers and then as people in their 40s who have never quite moved on from that terrible night. Sheens and his team are compassionate, clever, and likable, each with a story that will, we assume, be developed in later books. Despite the small list of suspects, the mystery intrigues and twists, offering enough red herrings and moments of police procedural to please fans of the genre.
There are already two more DCI Sheens novels in the works—hooray!