The newspapers called it The Bad Place. A remote farm out on the Thames estuary, where six children were held captive for two weeks. Five of them got out alive.
That was twenty years ago. Now adults, they meet up annually to hold a vigil for their friend who died. The only rule is that no-one can talk about what happened the night they escaped. But at this year’s event, one of them witnesses a kidnapping. A young girl, Sammi, is bundled into a van in front of their eyes.
DI Sasha Dawson, of Essex Police, is certain that the key to finding Sammi lies in finding out the truth about The Bad Place. But she also knows that with every second she spends trying to unlock the past, the clock ticks down for the missing girl.
Is history repeating itself? Is one of the five responsible? Or is someone sending them a twisted message?
MY REVIEW :
Anyone who’s been following my reviews for a while knows that I love a good crime series. Well, my friends, it seems I have found another to add to the growing list. This was the first time I’d read a book by this author but the premise gave me chills, and the endorsement from Mark Edwards made me sure I could trust that this would be a great read. I wasn’t wrong.
The book opens on the thirteenth day of an abduction. This is also the day that five of the children held captive escape and there’s a showdown between the police and the kidnapper as they try and prevent a disastrous end. They aren’t successful. We then jump forward to twenty-six years later when the survivors are holding their annual get together to commemorate their lost friend. But when the final member of their party arrives shaken claiming to have witnessed a young girl being snatched on the street, the group are descended into a nightmare that they have tried to put behind them and secrets that have been kept for almost three decades threaten to finally be revealed.
This was a captivating and thrilling read. Like the police investigating, I was met with question upon question, and I was over half way through the book before I could begin to conceive who might have taken the children or what might happen next. The story is told in dual timelines with the flashbacks to The Bad Place all those years ago providing insights. It was clear from early on that one of them hasn’t told the whole story about her time at The Bad Place and would rather try to forget the unspeakable things that happened. All the same, I didn’t initially consider any of the survivors of being involved in the latest abductions, though as the evidence was uncovered there were times I did wonder if one or more of them were involved in some way.
All of the survivors are featured in the story but Karin is the one focused on most, and the one who narrates the flashbacks. It was her best friend Bex who was killed that fateful night and she’s haunted by it to this day. She’s the one who hosts their yearly vigils and seems to have a maternal role towards some of the others. I thought they were all well written and the author found different ways to show the lasting damage they’d all suffered after their abduction, some of which are very subtle. Their bond seems to be kind of toxic but comforting at the same time and as much as they talk about never meeting again none of them seem able to stay away from each other completely.
This introduction to DI Sasha Dawson had me hooked. She is a flawed character who is committed to her job and dealing with a home life that is falling apart. She desperately wants to put her marriage back together and find her closeness with her children again, but that isn’t easy when you have a job that demands so much of your time and energy. All through the book she’s battling this problem and I was rooting for her to find a way to put her family back together as much as I was for her to save the missing kids. Her team members were made up of some interesting characters that I also enjoyed reading and I’m looking forward to reading more about Sasha and her team in future installments of this series.
As I said, I found it very hard to figure out this book and that made me love it all the more. I love when I feel like I’m in the same boat as the police and the pieces very slowly come together. As we got closer to the end of the book it was impossible to stop reading as everything reached a crescendo. When the identity of the kidnapper was revealed I was blindsided. I had the wrong person in my sights and the author did a fantastic job of misdirecting me so I didn’t see it coming at all.
If you’re a fan of brilliantly written, twisty, edge-of-your-seat thrillers, then you will love The Bad Place. I know this author has a new fan and I am eagerly anticipating book two.
Thank you to NetGalley, Head of Zeus and M.K. Hill for my copy of this novel in exchange for an honest review.
Out now from your favourite bookseller.