Two schoolgirls have been abducted. Both come from the same small close-knit, suburban village somewhere near the Cotswolds. Stephan Bates, the father of one of the missing girls is arrested, and suspected of the abductions.
DI Tom Thorne is on holiday with PC Helen Weeks, when they hear the news. They are holidaying close to the village of the crime. Helen Weeks was at school with the mother of one of the missing girls, Linda Bates, the wife of the arrested suspect, so Thorne and Helen Weeks abandon their holiday and drive over to lend support to Helen’s old school buddy.
While Helen visits Linda Bates, DI Tom Thorne cannot help but involve himself in the case and goes in to the local station to learn more. He believes they have arrested the wrong man, and that a potential killer is out there, and may strike again.
Then a body turns up, although the father is in custody. And then the media descend on the town and the fireworks really fly. Thorne immediately intervenes on the case, and makes many waves in his determination to find the right killer, and bring closure to the mother and the whole of the grieving village. He is also aware that a second body has not, as yet, been found, and he knows this means there is a slim chance the second girl is still alive, and time therefore, is everything.
The story is told through more than just Thorne and Helen’s point of view. We also get the voice of one of the girls, and the abductor.
Billingham is a master of characterisation and nail-biting tension, two of the main ingredients that make up a first class crime novel. Miss this one at your peril. I eagerly await his next.
Reviewer: Linda Regan