Crooked Creek Detective Ellie Reeves is hopeful for a quiet holiday season as she and FBI Special Agent Derrick Fox head to attend the town Christmas pageant. Fresh off some stressful cases, along with some painful revelations in her personal life, she’s hoping for the time to sort things out, and bridge the divide she’s created with her parents after learning she was adopted and rescuing her birth mother from imprisonment. But, it feels like the quiet before a storm, and Ellie is inexplicably on edge.
Five-year-old Ava Truman can’t contain her excitement for the school party that’s planned for today. With cupcakes in the oven along with a raging migraine, her mother Lara watches her only daughter race to catch the school bus, waves as the bus goes by and heads for a short nap, before delivering the cupcakes to school. Upon her arrival to Ava’s classroom, she learns that Ava never arrived to school, nor was she seen at the bus stop that morning.
As Ellie and her team assemble to begin gathering information, Ellie learns that the family is going through a divorce and that Lara’s husband wants partial custody, frequently accusing Lara of not caring for her daughter. Could this be a custodial kidnapping? Shortly thereafter, items of young Ava are found nearby, including her backpack, and a stuffed bunny that she never allowed out of her sight.
As the investigation deepens, Lara’s husband surfaces and denies knowledge of Ava’s disappearance, but some digging into his new girlfriend’s life has detectives on high alert. A records search for similar cases draws some strange parallels, and the discovery of another missing child who vanished a year ago to the day of Ava’s disappearance, whom has never been found.
Another great read in the Ellie Reeves series, and another book that you shouldn’t start unless you’ve got some time set aside, because it will be THAT hard to put down. Great as a standalone or in series order – if you love a suspenseful who-dun-it, add Rita Herron & Detective Ellie Reeves to your “must read” list!