All it takes is a split second with your eye off of the ball. That moment is all it takes for your whole life to be ripped apart at the seams. This is the kind of hell Francine is all too familiar with – knowing that had she been more vigilant in that moment, her young daughter Autumn would still be with her.
It’s been ten years since Autumn vanished without a trace, and Francine is a wreck. She’s clinging on to semblances of normality, managing to hold down a job alongside an alcohol addiction, but has been driven to the point of madness over the past decade, engaging in increasingly desperate attempts to locate her missing daughter.
So when an anonymous letter turns up through her door, containing nothing but the words ‘I know where she is’, it wouldn’t be a stretch to imagine that this is a cruel joke played on a desperate woman, or that in her fragile state of mind, the whole thing is an illusion. She pleads with her ex – Autumn’s father – to believe her, but his derision is palpable. So she goes at it alone.
Then a girl shows up out the blue – covered in cuts, severely malnourished and caked in dirt. She claims that she helped take Autumn all those years ago – and knows where she is…
It is at this stage that Francine falls down a rabbit-hole of horrors. This novel needs to come with a very big trigger warning for graphic depiction of torture, rape, sexual violence. The kinds of unimaginable trauma that Francine hears about is the very real peril that a thriller like this needs to keep the plot moving swiftly on – and there’s no denying that this is a gripping, intense read.
It is also an uncomfortable read, and there were times I thought about stopping. But the pace ramps up a notch every time, making it difficult to put down. It’s wildly implausible on several counts – but the frenzied, half-mad schemes of Francine illustrate well her total desperation, and the lengths she will go to to save her daughter.
“The hard work was already done, the difficult choices made. There was no going back now, she realised. It was all or nothing. Find Autumn or die trying.”
I received a copy of this book via Netgalley. It will be published on 14th August 2017.