Tough, tenacious, and scared silly: the author’s quintessential heroine scores again in this third deft British import (The Red Room, 2001, etc.).
Bound, gagged, a hood covering her head, terrified—that’s how we first meet Abbie Devereaux, a young Englishwoman convinced she’s about to be murdered. Her kidnapper has told her as much, and she’s learned to take him at his word. She’s been his prisoner for three days, she thinks, a reckoning made uncertain by fear and by the brain-fog resulting from brutality. He’s beaten her, toyed with her, half-starved and humiliated her, and he won’t tell her why, or what he plans for her, aside from the promised death. She knows he’s a psychopath, yes, but nothing else. Then—through luck and a heaven-sent miscalculation—she escapes and finds herself launched on part two of her nightmare: it seems no one will believe her when she describes her horrific ordeal, a problem compounded—excruciatingly—by post-traumatic amnesia. She can't remember the act of being kidnapped—that is, where it took place—or much about anything in the days immediately preceding. Hospital authorities have begun using the word “fantasy.” Her friends listen to her with a sympathy edged in skepticism. Show us something in the way of corroborating evidence, the police tell her. She can’t. “My head has a black hole in it,” she says helplessly. But Abbie, of course, has never really been the stuff victims are made of, and an unavoidable bedrock truth provides all the incentive she needs to stiffen her spine. Her kidnapper believes her. And since he’s out there now undoubtedly feeling threatened, she’d better find him before he finds her again. Abbie has to stalk the stalker.
Despite occasional plotting flaws, that sound you hear is the rustle of pages turning rapidly.