An adventuresome tale of two co-dependent foster kids, one of whom becomes unraveled when the other is found murdered.
Popular serial novelist Lost’s (Clarity, 2014, etc.) story of allegiance and betrayal follows Scarlett and Cole Hunter, who both managed to endure a string of disastrous foster-home experiences and establish an inseparable, heartfelt connection. Scarlett has had a protective bond with Cole since she was 13, but recently, now that he has become a reputable, innovative architect, he has inexplicably disappeared. When Scarlett’s meddlesome war-veteran boyfriend, Zack, reveals proof that Cole has been murdered, she dismisses his desperate marriage proposal to embark on a mission to discover why her beloved Cole was gunned down. Motivated by her love for her friend and the rich history they shared, Scarlett (using “Sophie” as a fake name) believes she can solve the riddle of his violent murder. Flashback chapters effectively grouped throughout the novel depict the two’s youth. Cole’s parents died in a house fire when he was young, and his adolescence included a succession of abusive foster homes. Throughout it all, he cultivated a dream of becoming an entrepreneurial architect. He’d met Scarlett when they were foster children together under the roof of an abusive, child-molesting tyrant, each promising the other they would get out alive. Their abuser now has become a high-profile senator and quite possibly Cole’s vengeful murderer, so Scarlett must use all of her technological acumen as a covert “cryptanalyst” (developed after years of designing security-system software for Cole’s business) to break into his personal accounts for clues. The story is succinct and swiftly paced, loaded with colorful characters; the makeup of one looked “like it came directly from an Instagram tutorial.” Readers will vicariously enjoy this thrill ride as Scarlett edges closer to the truth and the danger mounts. Scarlett’s true identity and a final, somewhat far-fetched twist will both surprise and bewilder and leave just enough room for a sequel.
A well-written, serpentine, breezy thriller centered on themes of belonging, abandonment, and the emotional struggle of parentless children.