When Irene Kelly's articles profiling missing children run in the Las Piernas Express, she anticipates the renewed public interest and the deluge of phone tips and remembered clues; she even anticipates the renewed pain of the anguished parents. What she doesn't expect is that the articles will set off a murderous chain reaction -- and put her life in peril.
Perhaps one of the more tragic disappearances in recent Las Piernas history was that of Jenny Fletcher, just shy of her fourth birthday. The body of Jenny's father, Richard, a graphic artist, was found bludgeoned in his studio; hours later Jenny's stepbrother Mason was apprehended with the murder weapon and bloody clothing in his car. But little Jenny was never found. As the years pass, everyone assumes Jenny is dead. Everyone except her brother Caleb, who not only believes Jenny survived but steadfastly believes in Mason's innocence.
Caleb, now a graduate student studying with forensic anthropologist Ben Sheridan, works on cases for the Las Piernas Police Department. When bones are discovered at the old Sheffield estate just days after the missing-children articles appear, Caleb finds himself drawn into a case that threatens to bring personal tragedies back to the present. He has a fierce ally in reporter Irene Kelly, who will stop at nothing to solve the mysteries of his father's murder and his sister's disappearance.
At the start of Edgar-winner Burke's well-crafted 10th novel of suspense (after 2005's Bloodlines), sociopathic killer Cleo Smith has just murdered a graphic artist, Richard Fletcher, who was a member of a large, bizarre California family, but Smith's motive for the killing remains obscure. Five years later, Fletcher's adopted son has been wrongfully convicted of the crime, and Burke's resourceful and compassionate reporter heroine, Irene Kelly, has written a story about missing children that has prompted a host of inquiries from desperate relatives who have lost their own children. When more bodies turn up and further clues point to involvement of Fletcher family members, Kelly, aided by her police detective husband, Frank Harriman, puts her life on the line to exonerate the innocent prisoner and uncover the disturbing secrets at the heart of the Fletcher clan. The many plot twists should keep readers turning the pages, even if the windup is a little improbable.