In Costello’s (Squall, 2014, etc.) latest horror novel, a father grieving his son gets clues from beyond the grave about the abduction of another child.
Unable to deal with the pain of his son’s death from leukemia, anesthetist Dr. Peter Croft curls up on little David’s hospital bed and gives himself a lethal injection. Dying, he has a vision of himself and David in a strange room, lying terrified on a bunk bed, with a dark figure standing menacingly over them. After his colleagues revive him, he’s haunted by the memory of his son’s terrifying passage to the afterlife. He struggles to resume normal life, only to find himself ducking friends, making dangerous mistakes, and staring at photos of missing children on the hospital’s bulletin board. He’s particularly mesmerized by a photo of a little blond boy, Clay Dolan, who’s been missing for six years. Reluctantly, the doctor joins a grief support group, where he meets Roger Mullen, whose son, Jason—a friend of David’s—was abducted three years before. When Peter goes to Roger’s house for a drink, he sneaks a look into Jason’s old bedroom—and is stunned to recognize it as the room from his dying vision. He becomes convinced that the spirit of David is trying to tell him something about the missing boys. Then there’s a third kidnapping—another blond boy like Clay and Jason. This novel by Canadian horror/suspense writer Costello doesn’t quite put readers through a Mary Higgins Clark-like emotional wringer, but its suspenseful plot will still have them turning pages. Fans of the suspense genre may predict some of its plot twists, and some of its supernatural elements may not please everyone. Costello’s character development is also unsurprising, and the opening chapters, which concentrate on Peter’s grief, are a bit weak. However, the story still has some eerie, cliffhanger moments, and Costello knows how to push readers’ most important buttons.
An uneven but often effective missing-child story with a twist.