Taking a cue from the James Bulger case, this book switches from the murder of 2 yo Kirstie in 1997 by sisters Laurel 10 and Rosie 6 to twenty years later. Rosie was too young to be charged and convicted but Laurel has been in prison the whole time and her requests for parole denied. Rosie and her parents were given new identities. They moved to a new town and never had contact with Laurel again. Only solicitor Toby, the brother of her father, has fought in her corner. Cut to twenty years on, and Rosie - now Hazel Archer - is spending New Years Eve at a Dorset hotel with her boyfriend Jonny and his 14 yo daughter. A little girl goes missing in the wild, freezing weather, an author discovers Hazel’s identity and wants to capitalise on it and policewoman Hillier discovers the frozen child just in time.
This book is 5 star brilliant when it comes to describing the effects of the 1997 murder on all concerned. Particularly compelling, from a psychological and moral point of view, is the campaigning zeal of law graduate Joanna, Kirstie’s aunt. She’s fought hard to keep Laurel inside and unwillingly realises that her anger and hatred are corrosive. Toby stoically accepts his abandonment by his family for sticking with Laurel.
Demure Hazel has no memory of fatal events in 1997 and does a good job of presenting herself as the innocent one when author Max suggests a name-clearing book. Despite police acceptance of the “lost child found” scenario, Hillier still suspects foul play. There is certainly a major twist at the end that we couldn’t have seen coming because there’s absolutely no preparation for it. Pragmatic Hillier presents her boss with her suspicions about who might have abducted the child but panicked and didn’t go through with a murder but she must have known what he’d say: “Where’s your evidence?” Our ideas about Laurel, Rosie and their mother eventually change but ideally, an author would sneak in little warning signs a whole lot earlier. This is probably carping because otherwise, there’s a lot to admire here: a wide range of convincing characters, depth of insight into the human condition, a pacy plot and skilful scene-setting. One thing that can’t be criticised is the complexity of the love-hate psychology between Laurel and Rosie, and we do get to address the issue of “why?” Are some people simply evil or is there always a reason? Still highly recommended despite the carping, because it is a very engaging story.
- Audible Audiobook
- Listening Length: 10 hours and 2 minutes
- Program Type: Audiobook
- Version: Unabridged
- Publisher: Bolinda Publishing Pty Ltd
- Audible.com.au Release Date: 24 January 2019
- Whispersync for Voice: Ready
- Language: English, English
- ASIN: B07JZDDC7B
- Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 1,939 in Audible (See Top 100 in Audible)