Margot Lewis is the agony aunt for The Cambridge Examiner. Her advice column, Dear Amy, gets all kinds of letters - but none like the one she's just received:
I don't know where I am. I've been kidnapped and am being held prisoner by a strange man. I'm afraid he'll kill me.
Please help me soon,
Bethan Avery has been missing for years. This is surely some cruel hoax. But, as more letters arrive, they contain information that was never made public. How is this happening? Answering this question will cost Margot everything . . .
"Dear Amy, Please, please, please help me! I have been kidnapped by a strange man and he's holding me prisoner in this cellar."
Margot Lewis, agony aunt of a Cambridge paper, is used to receiving letters from weirdos and distressed or depressed people, but certainly nothing similar to the one she has just received. It's from a girl, named Bethan Avery, who had vanished without trace two decades earlier. Bethan is pleading for help as she says she's being held somewhere. Margot rushes to the local police station, but to her dismay, this is brushed off as some sick joke. However, when more letters written by Bethan are received, Margot decides to dig deeper. Is this really some hoax? Or did Bethan finally find the means to seek help? Meanwhile another girl has gone missing...
When I read this book's blurb, I was immediately intrigued and wanted to read it straight away. It's the sort of book I don't think twice of downloading. However, now that I've finished it, I'm still in two minds whether I've really enjoyed it or not. At times I felt I was enjoying the story, while at others I felt a bit confused, not sure about the whole plot.
The story started off quite as I was expecting and I found myself interested and absorbed throughout the first half. I desperately wanted to know if Bethan was really still alive or not. However at one point, bang! the story took a sudden, unexpected, awkward turn into what I would call an unrealistic, far-fetched direction. The ending is very tense and heart-pounding and I really liked it, but I would have liked to reach that ending through a more plausible plot.
For some reason I couldn't quite connect or warm to any of the characters, not even to Margot. I don't know why as on the whole the book is well written, however I found myself plodding through very long chapters, and one thing I really hate (with a capital H!) in books is long chapters - I find them too tiring!
Because of the first half which I found quite intriguing, I'm awarding this book 3*. Were it not for that unrealistic turn of events, this book could have been an easy 5* for me. Pity! This is just my honest opinion, and I'm sure other readers will enjoy this book much more than I did.
With thanks to Penguin UK - Michael Joseph for approving my request to read and review this book through Netgalley.
Helen Callaghan was born in California to British parents and her early years were spent in both the US and UK.
After several early false starts as barmaid, drama student, and nurse, she settled into bookselling, working as a fiction specialist and buyer for Athena Bookshop, Dillons and Waterstones over the next eight years. Though she loved life as a bookseller, Helen was drawn back to her studies. This decision proved to be rather a good one, and after studying for her A-levels at night school, she achieved a place to read Archaeology at Cambridge University as a mature student. Her interests include medieval cookery, hiking, running, and travel. She is fascinated by the past, and can frequently be found haunting ancient monuments. She blogs about these enthusiasms at www.helencallaghan.co.uk
She now runs her own business and lives in Cambridge.