A schoolgirl goes missing in Cambridge - and the police are convinced she has run away from home. Margot Lewis, the girl’s former teacher is also the ‘agony aunt’ of the Dear Amy advice column in the local newspaper. She receives all kinds of letters – but never one like this: Dear Amy I’ve been kidnapped by a strange man. He says I can never go home. I’m afraid that he’ll kill me.
This debut novel from Helen Callaghan follows the efforts of likeable amateur detective Margo Lewis to save a young girl who seems to be in great danger. Helen has drawn on her life in Cambridgeshire to add convincing details to the setting, and it seems at first that we could be dealing with a cruel hoax, as it seems improbable that anyone who has been kidnapped could write letters – and send them in the post.
The pace picks up as Margot realises it is a race to uncover the reason before it is too late – and the lives of more than one girl could be at stake. As is so often the case in real life, we never really understand the motivation of the sinister kidnapper and the book becomes troubling is when we switch to the point of view of the helpless victim.
I found this is engaging and troubling, as I can recall similar crimes which seemed to dominate the headlines then drift from public consciousness as time passes. The answer to the riddle of the letters, when it is finally revealed, is original and unexpected. All I can say is that it took my completely by surprise and sets this book apart from others in the genre.
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About the Author
Helen Callaghan was born in Los Angeles to British parents and her early years were spent in both the US and the UK. She became a bookseller, specialising in fiction, before securing a place at Cambridge University as a mature student. Find out more at Helen’s website www.helencallaghan.co.uk and find her on Twitter @HECallaghan.