I write this, as I have just finished Child Taken and I have to say as a debut novel, it is amazing! It’s very in-depth and detailed and has kept me hooked all day, as I sat in the garden reading. I firmly believe that Darren Young is a promising new talent to the crime fiction genre and can’t wait to get my hands on his next novel. Hugely recommend to fellow readers!
The novel opens 20 years previously, almost like a confessional, we hear from the mother of the kidnapped girl and the ‘father’ who was complicit in her abduction. I found the various perspectives and characters fascinating. I was totally immersed in this story as it unravelled. We learn that one sunny day, as children played on the beach. One went missing and never returned! The missing child was Jessica Preston, who at just under 3 years old, has never been seen since! What happened that day at the beach?
In the present day, we meet Danni Edwards, a young woman coming to terms with the repercussions of the loss of her mother. Danni’s mum died in a car accident during a storm. But Danni begins to suspect that there is something much more sinister about it. Was a suicide attempt? Or somebody seeking vengeance upon the family?
Danni is a very likeable and relatable character. The grief she feels for the loss of her mother, I found very accurate and incredibly moving. I lost my mother when I was 21yrs old, so I felt every word of her pain and suffering, through the pages.
We also meet, Laura Grainger, an ambitious journalist at The Gazette. Laura is not like Danni at all, she has the perfect middle class parents and cosy life. However, shunned by her work colleagues and with low self-esteem, due to her father acquiring the job for her. She is determined to find that one case, that will catapult her career to success. Through a twist of events, her attention becomes focused on the cold case of Jessica Preston’s abduction and she endeavours to interview Jessica’s mother Sandra…………
Sandra currently resides at High Cliffs House, a private mental health unit. She spends her days staring out of the window, lost within her grief. The anguish of Sandra’s life and the aftermath of the abduction and its impact on Jessica’s family is fully explained and it makes for heart-breaking reading. She firmly believes an abduction took place and that Jessica is still alive and hopes to someday reconnect with her. Although no-one believes Sandra, we the reader come to know, Sandra lost everything that sunny afternoon, her daughter was taken………
The case heats up when Laura finds an eye witness from the past. When it turns out to be ‘mad Mo’ a local mumbling drunk, she feels defeated by this complex mystery. That is until she crosses paths with Danni. Laura and Danni form a friendship over a shared interest in the abduction of Jessica Preston. Both women have differing motives, will they ever solve what happened that day on the beach? Who took Jessica Preston? Where is she now?
This is a very impressive debut novel, with emotive themes surrounding the aftermath of a child abduction case. I would recommend to all fans of the crime fiction genre and I can easily see Darren Young becoming a star in the genre in the future! 5*