Ashford (Fair Exchange is Robbery, 2003, etc.) offers a creepy tale of a kidnapping that tests the limits of family loyalties.
Because Elizabeth Oakley blamed her brother for the breakup of her marriage, she and PC Ron Perry haven’t spoken in years. But when her seven-year-old daughter Elaine disappears into Pearce Wood after a neighbor gives her a ride partway home from school, Perry is the first person Elizabeth calls. Even though department policy expressly forbids an officer from taking on a case that involves a friend or relative, Perry quickly fixes on a suspect and tries desperately to collect enough evidence for a warrant before Elaine is killed by her captor. His superiors, DI Yates and DI Clark, are the ultimate sticklers. Even though they know Perry is likely right, they demand proof that will persuade a judge before they move ahead to a search. And once they discover Perry’s relationship with Elizabeth, they sideline him into useless interviews with citizens who’ve reported sightings of the missing girl—all of whom naturally turn out to be mistaken. So Perry goes outside the law, risking in the process the trust of his supportive wife Sandra and the secure life they’ve built for each other and their daughter Moira.
Britishisms like “bolshy” and “plimsolls” provide as much puzzlement as the plot, which is long on suspense but short on surprise.