Review: ‘Little Girls Sleeping’ by Jennifer Chase ⭐⭐⭐

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He looked down at the little girl, sleeping peacefully, her arms wrapped around a teddy bear. He could let her sleep forever.

An eight-year-old girl, Chelsea Compton, is missing in Pine Valley, California and for Detective Katie Scott it’s a cruel reminder of the friend who disappeared from summer camp twenty years ago. Unable to shake the memories, Katie vows she won’t rest until she discovers what happened to Chelsea.

But as Kate starts to investigate, the case reveals itself to be much bigger and more shocking than she feared. Hidden in the depths of the forest she unearths a makeshift cemetery: a row of graves, each with a brightly coloured teddy bear.

Katie links the graves to a stack of missing-persons cases involving young girls – finding a pattern no one else has managed to see. Someone in Pine Valley has been taking the town’s daughters for years, and Katie is the only one who can stop them.

And then another little girl goes missing, snatched from the park near her home.

Katie’s still haunted by the friend she failed to protect, and she’ll do anything to stop the killer striking again – but can she find the little girl before it’s too late?

Thank you to NetGalley, Bookoture and Jennifer Chase for the chance to read this novel in exchange for an honest review.

The book opens with an unknown man who is creating his masterpiece: a grave. We then jump to four years later when Katie Scott is flying back home after two years in the army in Afghanistan working with the K9 unit finding explosives. Unsure what career path to take now she’s home Katie takes a temporary position at the Sheriff’s Office. One day she happens upon the cold case of missing eight-year-old Chelsea Compton. Reminded by the disappearance and murder of her childhood friend, Jenny, and feeling the crime was improperly investigated, she begins her own search for the girl.

When Katie locates not just Chelsea’s grave, but a row of graves in a remote area, the case becomes more than anyone had first thought. When another girl goes missing Katie vows to find the killer before it’s too late.

This was an easy read but it felt predictable. The elements for a great thriller were all there but that magic element was elusive. Katie was a whiny character that I just couldn’t take too. Though she was lavished with praise in the novel her discoveries were written as accidents instead of the result of her investigative techniques so I failed to agree with the consensus that she was a skilled detective. Only surface details were given for all the characters with Katie’s ptsd not even managing to provide depth for her character and becoming repetitive.

On a positive note, the crime scenes were chilling and the killer began as someone eerie and sinister. His twisted ideology made him a killer I was excited to read but again I felt like his character was underdeveloped and there was no real climax, just disappointment at the way it concluded. It felt like the author tried to do too much so the story and characters were rushed in exchange for packing a lot in. Crime fiction is a saturated market and sadly this one just didn’t stand out among the quality that is out there.

Out May 31st

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