Thursday, October 16, 2014

The Forgotten Girl by David Bell

If there's a new David Bell novel out then it must be October! Am I the only one who seems to mark the passing of the year with authors' latest releases?

Jason Danvers hasn't seen his sister, Hayden, in over five years. And that last visit was a doozy. While on a bender, Hayden stole one of the Danvers's cars and $400. It's understandable then that when Jason thinks he's seen her in town, he's apprehensive about a reunion.

But when Hayden arrives on his doorstep, she appears to have finally turned things around. Clean and sober, she says she's working to make amends. Then she asks Jason and his wife for one favor while she ties up loose ends in town: can they watch her seventeen-year-old daughter for her for just two days? Before the 48 hours is up Jason has heard that Hayden is back with her old crowd and potentially under the influence once again. When she doesn't return to pick up her daughter, he and his wife call the authorities. Hayden's car is found but the only sign of Jason's sister is a bit of blood in the backseat. And then the police discover a body.

One of the things I enjoy most about David Bell's books is the way he makes the reader think one thing and then turns everything upside down. I don't even try to tease out the who, why, or even what any more. Nope, I'm just along for the ride, enjoying every turn of the page.

Early on, Bell establishes a connection between Jason's missing sister and another person who's disappeared from his life - his best friend Logan. The two boys fought after graduation and no one ever saw Logan again. The emotional parallels are easily set, a friend has been looking for Logan and brings it up with Jason, making it fresh on his mind when Hayden makes her appearance and then disappearance. I found, though, that Jason's questioning whether Hayden and Logan had anything to do with one another was a bit forced. To my mind, there was nothing that brought any direct connection between the two. Considering how much musing the characters eventually do over this potential link, I wished the author had done a better job of convincingly setting that up in the story.

The Forgotten Girl fizzled a bit in the end. The build was nice and the pacing was fabulous, but the actual resolution didn't live up to the rest of the book for me. It made what could have been a great read an ok one instead.

Rating: 3/5

No comments: