I was very excited when I received an early copy of Val McDermid's new book from the Publisher, especially since the cover looks so inviting! When you read the synopsis I was even more drawn to the story and hearing that Stephanie Harker travels through security in the USA only to watch her boy get snatched from under her nose had me itching to start.
The first couple of chapters are usually slow burners with a majority of books as the authors go about explaining the characters or settings. None of that happens with this book and it takes a mere few pages for us to meet Stephanie and the five year old Jimmy as they go through security at the airport. With Stephanie watching Jimmy go through the metal detector she follows him and promptly gets stopped. She has no idea that as she gets stopped her life will change forever and she watches in disbelief as somebody in uniform comes along and leads young Jimmy straight out of the door. Within the first couple of chapters I was already at the edge of my seat and reading in disbelief as things go wrong very quickly for Steph.
As Stephanie gets led away be airport security to be questioned the story starts its real journey. It becomes clear pretty quickly that Stephanie is innocent and she is trying to explain to airport authorities that Jimmy has been snatched and they need to act immediately. As the FBI get involved and start to question her Stephanie sits back and tells the story of `how it all began'. We are taken back to the beginning by Stephanie herself as in small bursts we see her history and how she meets Jimmy's mum who is a famous TV reality star.
As Steph tells the story of how she came to meet Scarlett Higgins things start to make a little more sense. Scarlett is only famous for being famous and with a very strange upbringing she is determined to make a successful career out of her short reality TV stint. She then contracts cancer and begins her battle to keep her public image up, raise her son and generally gets the most out of life. As we fast forward to Steph trying to help the FBI to track down who may have taken Jimmy Higgins, and then back to the time before she had him you begin to question what everybody in Steph's life is up to, and whether they have an ulterior motive.
The layout and way the story is told certainly rings a few bells and had some ring of truth to it, especially in regards to a famous reality TV star who fought cancer in this country! But that aside, the way the story was told and the fact that each time we revisit Steph during her interview with the FBI you feel the tension rise. I literally couldn't put this book down. Towards the end I thought I had it all figured out and was irritated to see there was still quite a bit left, what more could there be? Turns out I was completely wrong and the ending threw me sideways, I certainly didn't see that one coming! All in all a book I couldn't put down and thoroughly enjoyed. Highly recommended!