It is a hot summer's day in the tourist village of Avebury. A man sits outside the Red Lion pub, waiting. He sees a woman with three young children, two of them running ahead while their sister dawdles behind. A child's voice catches on the breeze.
For want of anything more interesting to do, the man watches. He sees nothing sinister or threatening. Even when another figure enters his field of vision, he does not react. The figure is ordinary - male, short-haired, stockily built.But he is moving fast, at a loping run.
And then it happens. In one swift movement, the running man grabs the youngest child and carries her away. Still the man outside the pub does not react. Suddenly, awhite transit van bursts into view, its engine racing, its rear door slamming shut. The child and her abductor are inside. The child's sister rushes forward. The man outside the pub jumps up...
The tragedy begins at Avebury. But it does not end there.
This compelling stand-alone thriller from British author Goddard (Play to the End) opens in 1981 with the kidnapping of two-year-old Tamsin Hall and the hit-and-run death of Tamsin's seven-year-old sister, Miranda, in the ancient town of Avebury, at the foot of two massive, mysterious monoliths, part of a Neolithic stone circle. Fast forward to the present, where historian David Umber, who witnessed the double crime and later married the children's nanny, hears from now retired Chief Inspector Sharp of the Wiltshire constabulary, who has received an anonymous letter with clues to what happened that center on the identity of an 18th-century political gadfly known by the pseudonym Junius, the subject of Umber's Ph.D. research. Umber's realization that his wife's suicide years before may actually have been murder spurs him to join Sharp in pursuing this new evidence. The solution to both the identity of Junius and the perpetrator of the crimes against the children is satisfying, intelligent and refreshingly straightforward.