Dr. Noah Alderman is on trial for his life, accused of murdering his stepdaughter. Her father fought ruthlessly for custody of baby Anna as a power play after Maggie suffered the relatively unknown, but common, postpartum psychosis. With his recent death, Anna reaches out to the mother she wants to know. She enters the family, which includes Noah’s 10-year-old son Caleb, with a fortune from her father and an attitude of entitlement. Her accusations of molestation against Noah rend Maggie’s heart. Though circumstantial evidence points to Noah as Anna’s killer, Maggie retains a sliver of hope, not quite able to believe he is capable of such an atrocity. A phone call with shocking news sets Maggie on an investigation that may possibly free Noah and return him to her.
Told in alternating timelines, moving back in time through Noah’s trial, while Maggie’s story moves forward from the initial contact with Anna, the stories come together after the trial, with the reader learning information along with the characters. In true Scottoline fashion, the reader is kept guessing who did what until the perspective-shifting bombshell, and the action fast forwards. Un-put-down-able!
I received a digital ARC through NetGalley of this fantastic novel from one of my favorite authors.
Lucy lives a hard life of a 7-year-old as the punching bag of her mother and living toy of her pedophile grandfather. All she wants is a kitten and peaceful playtime with little sister Daisy. Her father loves her, but struggles in his marriage and financially. School and Social Services fail Lucy.
Taylor does an excellent job showing how each person who could have assisted this little girl had an agenda they prioritized—mom, grandpa, teacher, principal, social worker, and foster parents. She, however, doesn’t fully explore the alternate personality of Violet, who does her best to protect Lucy and can inexplicably access memories of baby Lucy. The timeline is a bit confusing, as the reader sees Lucy being molested by her grandfather at age 7 as though it’s the first incident, but Violet witnesses memories of earlier sexual abuse. There’s also no real explanation for Lucy seeing the dead whom she calls “wonders.”
The mother Doreen is one-dimensional, actively seeking ways to terrorize her children, while taunting her husband, with no redeemable qualities, merely a couple references as the child of an alcoholic who ended up in foster care as a play for sympathy. The father Dan is more complex, with conflicting emotions driving his behavior, and a sense of desperation with the loss of control over his own family.
Lucy’s story comes across as a worst case scenario, showing every step of the way how every adult who could have improved her life chose instead to focus on their own selfish needs.
I was fortunate to receive this copy from the author in a giveaway.