The Girl Who Was Taken
Setting – North Carolina
Kensington (April 25, 2017)
Hardcover: 320 pages
Kindle ASIN: B01JEJC8PW
Charlie Donlea, one of the most original new voices in suspense, returns with a haunting novel, laden with twists and high tension, about two abducted girls–one who returns, one who doesn’t–and the forensics expert searching for answers.
Nicole Cutty and Megan McDonald are both high school seniors in the small town of Emerson Bay, North Carolina. When they disappear from a beach party one warm summer night, police launch a massive search. No clues are found, and hope is almost lost until Megan miraculously surfaces after escaping from a bunker deep in the woods.
A year later, the bestselling account of her ordeal has turned Megan from local hero to national celebrity. It’s a triumphant, inspiring story, except for one inconvenient detail: Nicole is still missing. Nicole’s older sister Livia, a fellow in forensic pathology, expects that one day soon Nicole’s body will be found, and it will be up to someone like Livia to analyze the evidence and finally determine her sister’s fate. Instead, the first clue to Nicole’s disappearance comes from another body that shows up in Livia’s morgue–that of a young man connected to Nicole’s past. Livia reaches out to Megan for help, hoping to learn more about the night the two were taken. Other girls have gone missing too, and Livia is increasingly certain the cases are connected.
But Megan knows more than she revealed in her blockbuster book. Flashes of memory are coming together, pointing to something darker and more monstrous than her chilling memoir describes. And the deeper she and Livia dig, the more they realize that sometimes true terror lies in finding exactly what you’ve been looking for.
Charlie Donlea is a new author to me and I am so happy I found this book.
Emerson Bay is rocked when two high school seniors go missing. Nicole Cutty and Megan McDonald were not friends but they hung in the same crowd. They were both at a summer beach party when they disappeared. No clues were found even after a massive search. But then, 2 weeks later Megan is found walking down a highway. She has no idea who took her or why or where Nicole could be. Her physical injuries healed but she is emotionally tattered. She starts seeing a therapist and together they release a book about her trauma. Sadly Nicole is hardly mentioned.
Nicole’s sister Livia has never given up on finding Nicole. She is a fellow completing her training as a forensic pathologist knowing that any day her sister could appear on her autopsy table. Instead a young man from Nicole’s past shows up first and after he is identified she thinks he is connected to her disappearance. Livia reaches out to Megan hoping that together they can bring Nicole home.
The story is broken down into several parts and alternates between past and present. The separate plot lines blend together so well and are easy to follow.
Livia is the main character and most of the story is from her point of view. I was a little surprised at the actions she took while just being a fellow. She was driven to find answers even if that meant meeting with medical examiners from other states when girls had gone missing. She also tracked down and spoke to witnesses even before bringing the police in. She was gutsy and lucky.
With flashbacks we were able to get Nicole’s point of view and Megan was remembering more and more under hypnosis with her therapist. Megan’s parents wanted to see that she was healing and getting back to her old self so she put on a happy face around them but she was hurting inside.
The story has a real ripped from the headlines feel with a steady pace until Megan has a vital memory. From that point on the pages flew and the suspense ramped up to a extreme pace. The real world fell away and I was right there with Livia and Morgan. The author twisted the story in an incredible way that took me completely by surprise and I had that OMG moment.
Much of the story is procedural but so compelling. As it continues is becomes riveting, gripping, exciting, intense and the final twist was mind blowing. There are some creepy parts and Livia’s autopsies are vividly described. This story is not for the faint of heart but if you enjoy thrilling suspense this is the book for you.
I am excited to have found this author. I will be watching to see what he brings us next.
About The Author
Charlie Donlea lives in Chicago with his wife and two young children. He spends a part of each year fishing with his father in the far reaches of Canada, where the roads end and lakes are accessible only by floatplane. These majestic trips to “God’s Country” inspired the setting for his novels. Readers can find him online at charliedonlea.com
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Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from the publisher. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. Receiving a complimentary copy in no way reflected my review of this book. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255 : “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”