Thursday, April 11, 2013

A Psychological Thriller that Explores the Lives of Child Murderers as Adults

Bel and Jade aren't friends. Jade's family is poor; the children, one step away from being taken by social services. Bel's family owns the manor house. They spend one summer afternoon together and life is never the same. They're very young, inexperienced in child care. Through a series of coincidences and bad decisions, a small child, they agreed to take care of for a few hours, dies and the girls are labeled murderesses.

Now they're adults. Their names are changed. No one is supposed to know their history, but again coincidence throws them together at a seaside resort terrorized by a serial killer. Neither of them plans to meet, but they're thrust together again with tragic consequences. Although not explicitly stated, the underlying question concerns the success of the rehabilitation programs that readied them to enter society as adults.

This is a skillfully crafted novel. The present is interspersed with descriptions of the old crime. Trying to discover what these girls did to be labeled murderesses at eleven keeps you reading. The fear the girls experience as they try to keep from being identified by the people they live and work with is realistic.

My problem with the book is that there is too much coincidence. The girls make choices, but it seems that the hand of fate draws them together. The scene where one of the girls makes herself known to the other didn't feel real after all the soul searching she'd done about not being found out. However, the story is compelling, skillfully told, and the characters are realistic. I recommend this book if you want a novel you'll find hard to put down.

I reviewed this book for Net Galley.