One horrific morning a year ago, Isabel Drake finds her baby boy missing from his crib. When the police are unable to find any clues, the case quickly grows cold, and everyone around her seems too quick to move on.
With troublesome events of her past lurking in her subconscious, Isabel refuses to give up and take the blame for being an irresponsible mother.
Read if you like: mystery novels about a disappearance, non-linear storytelling, main character becoming a sleuth, themes of family estrangement, mental instability & sleeping disorder
A prominent plot element that catches your attention from the beginning is how the protagonist has been suffering from insomnia ever since Mason (her son) went missing. I thought it would add the perfect angle to make the protagonist an unreliable narrator.
But she is surprisingly clear-headed and rational throughout. Her thoughts and actions don’t reflect that of someone who hasn’t been able to sleep properly for months.
The narrative weaves in and out of the present and Isabel’s childhood; each scene is a portrait of the guilt she carries. This further led me to believe that there’s more to her character than we’re being made aware of. I liked the flashback chapters a lot!
This book is not fast-paced, but with subplots like Isabel working with a podcaster, her carrying on her own investigation, and the gradual unravelling of an accident during her childhood, there’s a good amount of tension carrying the story forward.
There are a couple of themes in this book that I did not like. For starters, adultery. It has been made a crucial plot point in the book, and that put me off a bit.
Moreover, the storytelling relies too much on portraying the husband as unfeeling in the context of his son’s disappearance and the wife as the only one who cares. Now, if a stereotype is used as a plot device and it serves a bigger purpose, I can understand why it’s being used. But it just didn’t work in this novel for several reasons (that I’m not going to divulge because they could be spoilers).
That said, I enjoyed reading this book so much more than A Flicker in the Dark. It is well-constructed and layered enough to keep your thoughts churning about the plot.
The mystery surrounding Mason’s disappearance is so tightly woven that I couldn’t venture a guess at all. In fact, up until a little more than halfway through the book, there aren’t a lot of developments either. It felt like staring at puzzle pieces that just wouldn’t fit together. And that made me want to get to the end of the novel even more.
There are two revelations at the end. One of them is quite dark and tragic. The other… well, suffice it to say that I had questions about it.
All in all, it is a decent read. I like the author’s writing style. So I’ll definitely be keeping an eye out for future book releases.
Note – I received an ALC of this book from Libro.fm in exchange for an honest review.