St. Martin’s, Apr 2008, $23.95
On Sandling Island, England, divorced Nina Landry raises her two children, fifteen years old Charlie and Jackson. Nina is looking forward to a Christmas vacation in Florida with her boyfriend marine biologist Christian and is pleasantly stunned when he and others arrange a surprise fortieth birthday party for her.
However her joy turns to concern when Charlie fails to come home from a teen pajama party. Not only is this out of character for her daughter, but Charlie also promised to help pack for the Florida trip, a vacation the teen was looking forward to. Nina goes to the police, who provide her with platitudes about teens and nothing else just like friends and family did earlier. Each minute that passes with no news is like a nuclear bomb exploding in her stomach, but nothing except helplessness and fear happen.
This tense thriller is told predominantly by Nina so that the audience sees her dread grow rapidly and out of control because she is frustrated and fears the worst. Fans especially parents will empathize with Nina, as she not only prays for the safe return of her daughter, she offers deals to the Lord to make it happen. This is a winner from Nicci French as Nina’s life goes from joy to terror in a short span.