The deepest secrets are the ones we keep from ourselves in this richly atmospheric, compellingly written, and expertly constructed crime debut from an emerging talent.
Derbyshire, 1978: a small town in the idyllic English countryside is traumatized by the kidnapping of two young schoolgirls, Rachel Jones and Sophie Jenkins. Within hours, Rachel is found wandering alone near the roadside, unharmed yet unable to remember anything, except that her abductor was a woman. No trace of Sophie is ever discovered.
Present day: over thirty years later, Sophie's mother commits suicide. Detective inspector Francis Sadler and detective constable Connie Childs are assigned to look at the kidnapping again to see if modern police methods can discover something that the original team missed. Rachel, with the help of her formidable mother and grandmother, recovered from the kidnapping and has become a family genealogist. She wants nothing more than to continue living quietly beneath the radar, but the discovery of the strangled body of one of her former teachers days after the suicide brings the national media back to her doorstep. Desperate to stop a modern killer from striking again, Rachel and the police must unpick the clues to uncover what really happened all those years ago as the past threatens to engulf the present.
In Ward's underwhelming debut, an unknown woman abducted two eight-year-old Derbyshire girls, Rachel Jones and Sophie Jenkins, while they were walking to school on Jan. 20, 1978. Rachel was found a few hours later, unharmed in the woods, but Sophie was never seen again and the kidnapper never apprehended. More than 30 years later, Sophie's mother, Yvonne, commits suicide in a hotel room, leading Det. Insp. Francis Sadler and his eager underling, Det. Constable Connie Childs, to reexamine the kidnapping case to see what prompted the woman to kill herself. Meanwhile, Rachel, who still lives in the area and works as a family historian, is adamant that she remembers nothing from the day she was snatched. When another body turns up, that of a former teacher at Rachel and Sophie's school, the detectives begin to wonder if someone is covering up the tracks from 1978. Ward shows her hand much too early, killing the suspense, and her characters are wooden at best.