In his third novel, Edgar-winner Hart (Down River, 2007, etc.) confronts murder, depravity, betrayal and the like, while still finding room for tenderness.
Young Johnny Merrimon carries a detailed map of his Raven County, N.C., home and rides his bike in strict accordance with it, knocking on certain doors, bypassing others, but always watching. One year ago, his twin sister was kidnapped. By now, of course, conventional wisdom presumes her dead, but Johnny won’t let go. Neither will Detective Clyde Hunt, who’s paying a severe price for what some call an obsession. His wife has left him; his relationship with his teenaged son is getting less than the attention it requires; and even his career has been jeopardized. His boss, the chief of police, has begun to wonder aloud if Hunt has let the Merrimon case become unduly personal. Hunt denies this, claiming it’s the terrible, tragic case alone that absorbs him. But the fact is that he likes Johnny enormously. He’s drawn to the boy’s grit and tenacity. As for Johnny’s beautiful, grief-stricken mother, Hunt acknowledges to himself that he’d best tread carefully there. Then another little girl is kidnapped, and when murder follows murder, with more murder in the wings, it’s as if Pandora’s Box has sprung open.
Appealingly character-driven, particularly by 13-year-old Johnny, who’s full of likeable traces of Huck Finn.