Legal and illegal shenanigans take a back seat to mother love and its vicissitudes in Scottoline’s barn-burning crossover novel about every adoptive mother’s worst nightmare.
Even though the escalating homicide count in Philadelphia includes more and more children and economic clouds portend layoffs at her newspaper, features reporter Ellen Gleeson has her own private store of sunshine: her three-year-old son Will, whom she fell in love with two years ago when a story about pediatric care brought her to his hospital bedside. Because Will had a heart defect and his mother couldn’t care for him, she was willing to sign him over to a single mother, a decision Ellen has blessed every day of her life—until the day she sees a circular asking, “HAVE YOU SEEN THIS CHILD?” with the photograph of a boy whose resemblance to Will is uncanny. Timothy Braverman, abducted from his wealthy Florida parents, Carol and Bill, in a carjacking that went horribly wrong, hasn’t been seen since. Despite her dread of confirming her fear that Will is Tim, Ellen can’t help neglecting her job (with predictably dire professional results) to gather more information about him, partly because of her reporter’s nose for a story, but mostly because she wants what’s best for her son, no matter the cost. The trail leads her to a garage full of adoption folders, some unwelcome revelations about Will’s birth mother and a tense game of hide-and-seek with the Bravermans as she realizes what a hornet’s nest her questions have stirred up, and how determined someone is to make sure this is one story she doesn’t break. Though the blood-and-thunder climax arrives a mite early, there’s one final twist in reserve.
Fans will spot the last twist a mile away, but it doesn’t matter. For once Scottoline subordinates the criminal plot to the human-interest story that rides sidesaddle in all her thrillers (Lady Killer, 2008, etc.), and the result is her best book yet.