Ballantyne combines a stolen child, lost memories, and a love gone wrong in her latest tale.
Margaret Holloway, a happily married mother of two, is driving home on icy, snowy roads from work at Byron Academy, where she’s a deputy head teacher, when she becomes involved in a multicar accident. Margaret has already had a bad day, so the collision is the last thing she needs. And this is no ordinary wreck: Margaret finds herself stuck in her car, and when it catches on fire, she realizes she’s destined to die. Instead, a mysteriously deformed man breaks her window and pulls her out, putting his own life at risk in the process. After the car explodes, the man disappears, but Margaret soon tracks him down to the hospital where he’s been taken and put into an induced coma. When she visits him, she learns his name is Maxwell Brown and that he’s had no other visitors. Told from numerous points of view, the story flashes back to the events of 1985, when a little girl named Molly is abducted on her way to school. As her mother, Kathleen, and the whole country search for the child while fearing the worst, Molly is getting to know the man who took her—Big George McLaughlin, a gentle giant born into an unspeakably cruel family of gangsters. Meanwhile, an ambitious and unethical reporter named Angus Campbell is on Molly’s trail, determined to use her case to make a name for himself. Readers will have no trouble figuring things out for themselves, but this is less a story of suspense and more one of Margaret’s and George’s personal journeys. Ballantyne has tightened and improved her writing since her first novel, and the effort shows.
A sweet novel of love, redemption, and loss that chronicles one family’s struggle with a difficult past.