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Thursday 30 June 2022

‘Stolen’ by Tess Stimson

Published by Avon,
5 August 2021. 
ISBN: 978-0-00838905-4 (PB)

The story opens with Alexa Martini flying with her three-year-old daughter Lottie to attend the wedding of her friend Marc to Sian at the Sandy Beach hotel in Florida.  By page two, I had already gathered that Lottie was wilful, disobedient, utterly tiresome and determined to always have her own way. Alexa is a lawyer dealing with a top job and following the death of her husband Luca a year ago, a single mother. Although, she loves her daughter motherhood has not come easy to her. She is totally stressed. Lottie throwing a tantrum because she doesn’t want to be a bridesmaid doesn’t improve matters.

But in the midst of the wedding and the numerous guests Lottie disappears. Knowing that Lottie would not just go off with anyone, Alexa fears that she has been abducted.  The disappearance of a British child in an expensive top US resort makes worldwide headlines.

Initially there is sympathy for Alexa who is devastated, but eventually, as the investigation proceeds suspicion falls on her.  How come her mother wasn’t watching her?  How long was Lottie missing before her mother noticed?  With these questions circulating the media have a field day and she quickly loses public support and sympathy.

Narrated by Alexa Martini, and set-in two-time periods, this is an on the edge of your seat thriller. Beginning 48 hours before the wedding and then moving forward two years, the story unfolds.  Various leads appear but all peter out to nothing. Then little by little conflicting accounts appear, initially not considered, but with a two-year hind-sight maybe…?

The characterisation is brilliant, Quin, a television reporter until an IED exploded beneath her jeep in Syria. Now having lost her right eye, and with substantial damage to her right side, Quin is no longer on Prime television, but she picks up the story.  And what of her friends, we get to know them through her eyes, but how well does she know them?

Incredible cleverly plotted, this gripping mystery is full of twists and turns and surprises. Highly recommended.
Reviewer: Lizzie Sirett

Tess Stimson is the British author of ten novels, including top-ten bestseller The Adultery Club, and two non-fiction books, which between them have been translated into dozens of languages. Her first "proper" job after graduating from St Hilda's College, Oxford (where she read English) was as a news trainee with ITN (Independent Television News). She reported and produced regional and world stories, travelling to hotspots and war-zones all over the globe. In 2002, she was appointed Professor of Creative Writing at the University of South Florida and moved to the US. She now lives and works in Vermont with her husband, Erik, their three children, and (at the last count) two cats, three fish, one gerbil and a large number of bats in the attic.

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