For four long years, journalist Morgan Vine has campaigned for the release of her childhood sweetheart Danny Kilcannon – convicted, on dubious evidence, of murdering his 14 year-old stepdaughter.
When a key witness recants, Danny is released from prison. With nowhere else to go, he relies on single mum Morgan and her teenage daughter, Lissa.
But then Lissa goes missing.
With her own child now at risk, Morgan must re-think all she knows about her old flame – ‘the one that got away’. As the media storm around the mysterious disappearance intensifies and shocking revelations emerge, she is forced to confront the ultimate question: who can we trust…?
Simon Booker’s Without Trace had me hooked from the very first chapter.
Morgan Vine is a journalist who runs a reading group in the local prison, the prison in which her childhood sweetheart, Danny Kilcannon, is serving time for the death of his step-daughter, Zoe. His wife has also been missing since the death of Zoe. Four years into his sentence, he wins his appeal and is a free man. This is where the story starts and what a story it is!
Morgan hopes their relationship will be re-kindled, however following his release her daughter, Lissa, goes missing and this event puts doubt in Morgan’s mind about Danny’s innocence. Throughout the book I changed my mind constantly as to whether I thought Danny was innocent or guilty, whether or not he had done something to Lissa and whether or not I liked him. I also found myself at various points in the book doubting every character. If Danny is innocent then who is the guilty person?
I wondered how Morgan could be sure of Danny’s innocence at the beginning, especially as she hadn‘t seen him for two decades prior to his conviction, however, we learn about her past through flashbacks to 1989 and it becomes clear why she views him through rose-tinted spectacles. This, for me, was in integral part of the book and helped me to empathise with Morgan.
Morgan’s life is pretty sad – her relationship with her daughter’s father failed, she has no contact with her ailing father, her journalism career has failed, her daughter is a spoilt brat and yet she has the tenacity to find out the truth and follow every lead to find her daughter. I really travelled this journey with Morgan, Simon has done a great job in building her character and this is a huge strength in this book. I look forward to the next novel featuring her.
The suspense build up is second to none and I had to keep turning the pages and reading more to find out the truth. The sentence structure during tense times is cleverly done, making you hold your breath in anticipation. Full of perfectly placed red herrings, this book had me questioning everyone until the shocking, unexpected end.
A fantastic , well written debut thriller that will keep you guessing throughout and on the edge of your seat. Cannot wait to read more by Simon and meet Morgan Vine again. Highly recommended.
Thank you to Simon Booker, Twenty7 and Netgalley for the ARC in exchange for a fair and honest review.
Ebook published on 28 January 2016 by Twenty7.
Paperback published 16 June 2016 by Twenty7.