She drags her eyes open, realizing she’s starting to fade. Did she imagine the voices, or were they real? She tries calling out--“Daddy?”--using all her remaining strength. But she’s too late and her little voice just isn’t loud enough…
When Detective Madison Harper arrives at a remote summer camp in Shadow Falls, northern California, her heart breaks for Jenny, the sweet little girl last seen splashing in the lake with her friends before she vanished. Peering into the silent cabins filled with rows of neatly made beds, Madison knows this idyllic place is hiding a terrible secret.
The girl’s parents are distraught, and the local police have no leads—they desperately need Madison’s help. She’ll do whatever it takes to crack this case, because it’s the only way back to the son she lost to the care system years ago when she was framed for a crime she didn’t commit.
But with the camp staff keeping tight-lipped and her new partner on the edge of a breakdown, Madison can’t find any truth to her instinct that there is more to Jenny’s perfect parents than meets the eye. Until she discovers a disturbing family portrait Jenny drew at the local library. Was this angelic girl more troubled than anybody knew? Was she in danger from those she trusted most?
One thing is certain, if Madison doesn't find the answers soon, the lives of more innocent children will be at risk…
It's been a long time since I read a book set in the US, but the blurb of this book and the beautiful cover enticed me enough to give it a go. I'm now glad I did so as I really enjoyed this book.
Madison Harper is an ex-detective just released from prison. She had been framed by someone for a murder she didn't commit. Now that she's out with no place to live and no money she wants to find out who did this to her and she wants to clear her name. Someone stole six years of her life and has taken her son away from her. In order to do this she approaches a private investigator, Nate Monroe, to help her in her quest. Like Madison, Nate is a damaged soul, an ex-convict who has spent seventeen years on death-row for the murder of his fiancee. But Nate is innocent, he was framed too for this murder but was eventually released after new evidence proved his innocence. He knows who's behind this and is determined to find the person responsible for destroying his once-happy life. So both Madison and Nate are on a mission.
At first Nate is reluctant to help Madison. He doesn't like bent-cops. But then hearing and believing her story, he agrees to take her on as his employee. She will help him with his investigations and at the same time he would look into her case.
Their first case together is that of a missing nine-year-old girl who has disappeared while on Summer camp in a remote area of Northern California. There are a couple of suspicious individuals at the camp, but with no evidence and no body it will be very difficult for Nate and Madison to find any clues. The local police does not appreciate their interference and is reluctant to help. It's as though they too have something to hide. One thing is sure, something fishy is going on at the mysterious camp. What happened to Jenny? Is she lost? Did she drown in the lake? Or has she been kidnapped? Is she still alive or buried in the surrounding woods? Will Nate and Madison find the truth?
Well this book brought together two very interesting characters, each dragging a heavy baggage behind. Both Nate and Madison have suffered enormously at the hands of unscrupulous individuals who have ruined their lives. I loved these characters and their determination to seek the truth. In this book we don't have just one main character as we usually have in crime stories but two. Even though Madison is mentioned on the cover, Nate carries equal weight in the plot.
It felt as though this was not just one book, but three in one. We have the main missing person story, and then both Nate's and Madison's back stories. The author sometimes switches from the main plot to either Nate's past in prison or Madison's earlier life. We also have some chapters from the pov of a psychologist. I couldn't understand this character's significance, but then towards the end everything made sense.
The plot is well-written, entertaining, fast-paced and at times tense. We have a number of unexpected twists and turns and red herrings that keep the reader on their toes. I found myself desperately wanting to find out what happened to Jenny. The author leaves us clueless till the unexpected ending. The book ends with a massive cliffhanger, making the reader want to go straight to book 2 - Cry for Help, which is exactly what I've done.
I enjoyed reading this book and have no qualms in recommending it. With thanks to Bookouture for an ARC copy of 'Shadow Falls' through Netgalley.
Wendy is a former coroner's assistant turned crime writer who lives in the UK with her husband and 3 cats.
The Detective Madison Harper crime series from Bookouture at Hachette UK includes:
Book 1 - FIND MY CHILD - and book 2 - CRY FOR HELP both available to pre-order now (released Jan & Feb 2021). Books 3 and 4 will follow shortly.