An online project to trace the fates of missing persons and unidentified murder victims bears poisonous fruit for two women it brings together.
Everyone involved in the Doe Pages has their reasons—civic-mindedness, moral outrage, obsessive curiosity—for the interest they share in gathering information about the anonymous parties whose photos they pore over. Alice Fine’s reason sets her apart. Taken from her home when she was only 3, she was lucky enough to be rescued by her father, a police officer in Victorville, Indiana, apparently before anything terrible happened. In the generation that’s passed since then, Harrison Fine has quit the force, moved to Chicago, been widowed, and become the can-do junior partner in the contracting firm of King and Fine, where Alice is working in a meaningless hanger-on position the day she’s scanning the contents of the Doe Pages and spots the photograph of the man she’s convinced was her kidnapper. By the time Alice catches up with Richard Miller, she and a pair of her online buddies have uncovered evidence that he lived many lives before the last one came to an end when he was stabbed 12 times. One of these lives, Rader-Day (Under a Dark Sky, 2018, etc.) begins hinting early on, involved Merrily Cruz, who knew Miller as Richard Kisel, the man so close to her mother for so long that he was practically her stepfather, the man who on her 30th birthday leaves her a text message—“Hey, kid, it’s best if I don’t bother you anymore. Have a good life”—that so interests state trooper Graciano “Gonzo” Vasquez that it pretty much guarantees that “Rick Kisel was going to ruin their lives, all over again.” The ensuing developments send both heroines spinning down converging rabbit holes to their dimly remembered pasts until Alice concludes, “She was in Wonderland.” It’s not a pretty place.
Another harrowing nightmare by a master of the sleepless night.