An engrossing tale of a young woman kept hidden from her mother’s killer.
Allie Miller is murdered, and her 3-year-old daughter, Meg, is raised by Uncle Wayne and his wife in a secret location under a federal witness protection program. The killer—apparently Allie’s truck driver husband, Ramsey—remains on the loose. Who knows when he'll return to kill Meg as well? So Meg becomes Melanie Denison, lives in another state, is constantly shielded from the public, rarely allowed to be seen and unable to have a normal childhood. By 18, she chafes at the strict protection. Her aunt and uncle are paranoid about her safety, but she wants to know why Ramsey still has such a hold on her life. She's determined to find him before he finds her, so she returns to Silver Bay, where she had once lived and where her mother died. That Ramsey would both elude the police and lie in wait for 15 years to kill his daughter feels implausible, but Kardos' masterful storytelling persuades the reader to accept the premise. Readers may anticipate some of the plot twists, but the story is no less tense for that. Near the end, one character nicely states the theme: “We spend our lives trying to understand the hearts of those around us and the actions those hearts inspire, and we get it wrong, wrong, wrong.” The characters show their humanity through Kardos’ vivid prose: On the road for weeks at a time, Ramsey feels as though “he and the truck were a drop of the earth’s blood moving along a wide vein to deliver vital nutrients.” And when he thinks, about Allie, that “she was going to die tonight,” he does so without malice because he thinks a superconjunction of the planets is about to destroy the world anyway. But when it doesn’t—well, read the book.
First-class fiction about fear, love and lies. Highly recommended.