A race against time to save her child….
In seven days, Maggie’s son, Max, turns three. But she’s not planning a party or buying presents or updating his baby book. She’s dreading it. Because in her world, third birthdays are the days on which the unthinkable happens…. she loses her child
For the last twelve years Maggie has been imprisoned in a basement. Abducted aged fifteen, she gave birth to two sons before Max, and on their third birthdays her captor came and took them from her.
She cannot let it happen again. But she has no idea how to stop it. And the clock is ticking…
This book had me gripped from the start to the finish, I was still reading at 3 in the morning, but had to put it down as I kept dropping the kindle on my head. A brilliantly crafted story, with characters that are believable, relatable, you are with them through every emotion, every thought, every action and reaction, and you are rooting for them to come through this.
A normal family, mum, dad, son and daughter, meet the Coopers Martin Cooper, the dad, Sandra Cooper, Mum, Maggie, daughter and James, brother. How would you react if your fifteen year old daughter left home to go to her cousins, a short walk away but she doesn’t arrive, you watch the clock expecting her home like she promised, allowing a little bit longer, then a bit longer, but nothing. Now you wish you had let her have the mobile phone she had wanted, but as parents you had said she could have one when she was sixteen. But Maggie is gone, is she alive, has she been sex trafficked, has she been murdered. Every parents nightmare has hit the Coopers. Martin goes out looking everywhere he can think of to look for his daughter, he has called all the friends she would normally be with, and visited places she may have gone to. All her friends say they haven’t seen her, the ones she had said she was going to see she never arrived, Martin even asks her best friend if there is any possibility she could be meeting a new boyfriend, an older boyfriend she has kept secret, but he is assured that there is no one, except for the current boyfriend Kevin, who she was going to dump anyway. The family call the police, but they only say it’s too early to panic, as she is teenager she’s probably at a friends staying over night. But Martin, Sandra and James know that Maggie would never do that.
Eventually, a DI Jane Wynne calls round, she has looked into the report and realised that Maggie has no history of disappearing, or running away, so she starts an investigation.
This story is told from when Maggie is grabbed as she walks through the park on her way to her cousins, to the moment she opens her eyes in a room with no windows, no bath, no toilet, just a bucket with a toilet seat on, water to drink and wash with, we know who has taken her, which for me personally I think would have been better if we didn’t know it would have ramped up the tension, if it was revealed at the end as a surprise or more of a shock, but maybe it was done as a way of showing we don’t know who lives down the street, or next door, or how people aren’t as involved with neighbours now compared to years ago, where most people knew each other and would have a chat, and would possibly notice some sort of change in behaviour.
Maggie has seven days, seven days until her sons third birthday, twelve years have passed since she was ripped away from her family, she often wonders how they are, are they still together, are they alive, has James got a girlfriend, or is he married, so as much as the parents are worrying about Maggie she is worrying about them. Max will be 3, she knows the man will take him away on his third birthday. She knows because he took Seb and Leo away on their third birthdays, she doesn’t know what he did with them, or where they are. She also knows she couldn’t handle that again. She can’t lose Max. She is marking the days off on the calendar.
The story is told in timescales, and through different points of view, so the date 7th July 2006, when Maggie is missing, there are chapters from Martins POV as a father, by the 9th July 2006 we have the introduction of DI Jane Wynne. But then the story goes to present day, again with different points of view Maggie, James, how he is dealing with the loss of his sister, one bit that I felt was really poignant is when James thought the following excerpt:
‘he had woken up a fourteen year old boy, who messed around with his friends, and wondered if he’d ever kiss a girl? and thought the world was basically a fun, safe place, and he’d gone to bed a fourteen year old boy who looked at the world with fear’
That one day had changed his whole outlook on life. It had changed everything, like a domino effect.
Despite the timeline changing and the points of view, it was very easy to follow, there is never any confusion, and you are seeing and feeling the emotions each member of the family is going through at each stage, wondering if the marriage will hold up, the things James goes through, he can’t handle the loss of his sister, it has a huge impact on his life. To what Maggie is going through being in this one room for 12 years never seeing daylight or breathing in fresh air. The warped thinking of the man that has taken her. The investigation by DI Wynne, it’s a case that haunts her.
The emotions in this book are like a rollercoaster, so many ups and downs, the ending had me in tears, again that’s just me. This is a very cleverly thought out plot, it works so well and my heart near the end was just pounding as I tried to get to the next page. I loved this family.
We know this has happened in real life, we know it can happen again, and for all we know could be happening now to someone’s daughter. I don’t know how I would have dealt with something like this if my daughter had been taken. It makes you think, and be grateful that you haven’t had to live through something like this, despite this just being a story.
I certainly give this book a ⭐️ ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ Out of ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️. I will be looking out for more books by this writer.
I would like to thank netgalley and HarperCollins publishers for giving me an eARC of this book in exchange for an honest, fair and unbiased review.
Alex Lake is the pseudonym of a British novelist whose first book was one of Amazon UK’s to ten debuts of 2012. Alex was born in the North West of England in the 1970’s and now lives in the North East of the US.