Author: Thomas Cook
Original language: English
From Publishers Weekly
In this affecting, if oddly flat, crime novel from Edgar-winner Cook (The Chatham School Affair), Eric Moore, a prosperous businessman, watches his safe, solid world disintegrate. When eight-year-old Amy Giordano, whom Eric’s teenage son, Keith, was babysitting, disappears from her family’s house, many believe Keith is an obvious suspect, and not even his parents are completely convinced that he wasn’t somehow involved. As time passes without Amy being found, a corrosive suspicion seeps into every aspect of Eric’s life. That suspicion is fed by Eric’s shaky family history-a father whose failed plans led from moderate wealth to near penury, an alcoholic older brother who’s never amounted to much, a younger sister fatally stricken with a brain tumor and a mother driven to suicide. Not even Eric’s loving wife, Meredith, is immune from his doubts as he begins to examine and re-examine every aspect of his life. The ongoing police investigation and the anguish of the missing girl’s father provide periodic goads as Eric’s futile attempts to allay his own misgivings seem only to lead him into more desperate straits. The totally unexpected resolution is both shocking and perfectly apt.
Cook’s latest is proof that he is maturing into a gifted storyteller. An eight-year-old girl is missing. The police quickly zero in on her baby-sitter, Keith Moore. Keith’s parents proclaim his innocence, but his father, Eric, has his own secret doubts. The way the author tells the story, it really doesn’t matter whether Keith is guilty or not; what matters is the way the Moore family slowly disintegrates, as his parents deal in their own ways with the possibility that their son may be a monster. The novel is narrated by Eric; perhaps the story might have been slightly more effective if it were told in the third person, so we could watch Eric fall apart (rather than listen to him tell us about it), but that’s nit-picking. In terms of its emotional depth and carefully drawn characters, this is one of Cook’s best novels.