It’s 3AM when the phone rings, rousing Detective Megan Carpenter out of a sound sleep. As she answers, it’s Sheriff Gray, asking for her assistance with a missing person’s case. Her partner Ronnie arrives to pick her up, sharing the scant details. Reportedly, a mother and son are missing, as called in by her estranged husband, Ben, a bit earlier. The tidbit she saves for last is that the missing twosome, Marlena and her son Bennie, are the niece and grandnephew of the Sheriff.
As Megan and Ronnie arrive on scene, they learn that the family has been separated for a week or so. When her husband count get hold of her, he reportedly came by the house to check on them and found them missing. The officers on scene describe his behavior as detached and emotionless, feeling that things aren’t quite adding up. It is also of great interest to Detectives that Ben didn’t mention the fact that his wife was pregnant.
As the investigation gets underway, a grim picture begins to emerge of an emotionally distant husband, and a family that was kept isolated and rarely seen in public. Suspicions of abuse develop based on analysis of the family home, drawings in the home, recollections of nearby neighbors, as well as conversations with Marlena’s physician. They also locate a girlfriend, who has her own tale to tell.
As Megan and Ronnie race against time to find Marlena and Bennie, the evidence seems irrefutable. Meanwhile Ben sits for a polygraph, which gives them some evidence of deceit, but brings them no closer to solving the case. Meanwhile, Ben’s girlfriend has gone missing and is found dead in a car crash, with a bullet wound to her head. But where are Marlena and Bennie?
Of course the husband did it…didn’t he??
As a long-time fan of Gregg Olsen, I am not quite sure how the prior Megan Carpenter books managed to escape my notice! As with all his novels, this one captured my attention almost immediately as I rooted for Megan and Ronnie to catch their guy and hopefully find the family, before it was too late. While I sensed early on that nothing was quite as it seemed, the urgency continued to build, keeping me flipping pages well into the night – and the ending was not what I was expecting, and even a smidge anti-climatic for me. That said, I thoroughly enjoyed these female protagonists, and look forward to reading the past and future Megan Taylor stories.
I received this book as an Advance Reader Copy from #Netgalley & Bookouture in exchange for an objective review.
Available December 7, 2021