Leila, 8 years old, disappears from the Hawthorn estate, Coleshaw, sparking a nationwide police hunt, but her abductor is much closer to home than anyone realizes. Lisa Stone’s fourth crime novel is a fast paced narrative in third person and 86,000 words long.
Colin Weaver often looks through the window of his third floor flat on the Hawthorn estate to the children’s play area below. He watches Leila Smith who is there most evenings after dark – long after other children have to be home. Her mother, Kelsey, doesn’t care. She lives in the flat above his and he hears a lot of what goes on. He despises her for neglecting her child and funding her drug habit from prostitution and decides something needs to be done to save the child and punish the mother.
Colin Weaver isn’t the only one on the estate who is concerned about Leila. Retired, Doris Goodman keeps a close eye on her too, and lectures her mother for not taking better care of her daughter. Kelsey knows she’s a crap mother but is powerless to change her ways. Until Leila goes missing.
DC Beth Mayes and DC Matt Davis interview Kelsey as a nationwide police hunt begins for her daughter. Kelsey isn’t much help as she was unconscious from drink and drugs on the night Leila went missing. She is being comforted by her sister, Sharon, who is respectable and very different from Kelsey. Despite a door to door police enquiry there are no leads until Colin Weaver doesn’t show for work. The police break into his flat and find a suicide note, but no Leila, although DNA evidence shows she has been there.
A hundred miles away Colin is hiding Leila in a remote cottage on the moors. He believes he has rescued her but without any experience of parenting, Leila proves a challenge. Colin has a short temper so she keeps out of his way, while looking for a means to escape. Colin consoles himself that he only has to put up with her for a few weeks and then his life will change irrevocably for the better for ever.
Colin is arrested for the abduction and murder of Leila Smith. He protests his innocence and claims others were responsible although he won’t divulge their names. Even without a body the case against him is strong, until Leila arrives at her mother’s six weeks after going missing. The murder charge against Colin is dropped but he still faces a long prison sentence if convicted for abduction. Leila is too traumatized to say what really happened.
The social services place Leila in the care of her aunt, Sharon. However it soon becomes clear Sharon has issues of her own. When Leila overhears her talking to Colin Weaver she realizes they planned her abduction together and she is in as much danger now as before. But will anyone believe her?
As a writer of suspense thrillers I often ask myself what if? What if this happened instead of that? Or why a particular person reacted as they did. So often fact is stranger than fiction and these books start with a fact which I develop. You may be surprised to know, for example, just how many patients experience changes in their likes and dislikes after a transplant operation ~ The Darkness Within. Or how easy it is to look into someone’s home through their CCTV ~ Stalker.
Just a little bit about me. I live in England and have three children. I have always been a writ...
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