Daly’s debut novel explores how interpersonal relationships wax and wane following the disappearance of a local child.
Lisa Kallisto is one of those overworked, overscheduled mothers who never secure enough sleep at night. After getting her three kids off to school, working all day as the manager of a charitable animal shelter and taking care of her household, she’s lucky to get a few minutes to herself. So when her daughter’s friend Lucinda turns up missing after she was supposed to spend the night at Lisa’s home, Lisa is full of blame and self-loathing. And she’s not the only one who finds herself at fault: Most of Lucinda’s family, the police and even her own husband, Joe, think Lisa should have paid more attention to what the two young teens were doing. Now, it looks like the kidnapper, who has already abducted one other girl, is at it again, and Lisa is trying to put the pieces together. So is Joanne Aspinall, an investigator with the local police in the small English town where both Lisa’s and Lucinda’s families live, and Joanne’s finding that things are growing more and more curious as the pieces to the puzzle refuse to fit together. Daly has a nice writing style: It’s casual, readable and full of natural-sounding dialogue. Readers will like Lisa, the protagonist, but most likely be puzzled at her insistence (and that of others around her) that it’s all her fault. That hole in the basic premise doesn’t constitute a fatal flaw, but if Daly really wanted Lisa to have her hands dirty, she could have made her part in the proceedings stronger. As it is, readers may find themselves puzzled over the degree of angst and self-recrimination that hovers around Lisa throughout the book. And Joanne, although likable, comes off as weak and sports an irritating habit of turning her phone off, meaning she misses vital calls.
The characters and motivations lack balance, but the storytelling and Daly’s voice are top-drawer.