Irish Breakfast tea. Check. Firm pillow and electric blanket. Check. Anticipation of turning that first page in Gerry Schmitt’s new Afton Tangler thriller, Little Girl Gone. Absolutely.
Plot: The first chapter elegantly sets the story, mood, and tone. Ms. Schmitt neatly opens with a scene that should be normal but right away heads into dark territory. The creepiness, the closing in, the foreshadowing of things about to go terribly wrong. And they do. Gerry’s pull into the pages is absorbing and relentless. The story lets you breathe for only seconds at a time until events, clues, and motivations bite through that snuggly blanket. Read every word or you will miss something important. Did you catch the mistake Ronnie made at his victim’s house that is surely to give him away?
Spectacle: Schmitt is quite adept at sliding in thematic elements to enhance the scene and deepen the chapter’s underlying currents. Wherever you are, the cluttered, dusty police station, the dingy home of the kidnapper, or Susan’s fancy just-so house, the sensory details are rich and satisfying. The cadence of boots crunching in the snow, the smell of Marjorie’s kitchen, of white and cold and ice permeating the scenes. The sound of a pickax. (You’ll know what I mean.)
Character: Here’s where Ms. Schmitt shows brilliance. From Afton to Max, Ronnie, Shake, and even a random TV reporter, the author has created rich, complex, genuine, knowable, and frightening characters. Each has a clear goal and motivation. And they have secrets from each other. Here are people who come apart, who lash out and ruin other’s lives, who show courage and heroism, and who act and react in believable yet very dark ways.
Dialogue: The author clearly has taken time to explore each character’s speech patterns, rhythm, and word choices. And she sprinkles in a lot of funny lines. These lines are subtly placed and will give you a chuckle when you really shouldn’t be chuckling at that moment.
You may want to use one of those plug-in cup warmers when you settle in with this book. As pieces came together and the story concluded, I reached for my mug. But I was so engrossed in the lives of the characters my tea had grown as cold as the frigid Minnesota landscape. And the book cover beautifully matches the story. Icy and blue Minnesota coldness.
Don’t miss out on this book. Yes Ms. Schmitt can sure write a good cozy under her pen name Laura Childs. But wow can she write a thriller.
ABOUT LITTLE GIRL GONE
In the first Afton Tangler thriller, the unforgiving cold of a Minnesota winter hides the truth behind an even more chilling crime…
On a frozen night in an affluent neighborhood of Minneapolis, a baby is abducted from her home after her teenage babysitter is violently assaulted. The parents are frantic, the police are baffled, and, with the perpetrator already in the wind, the trail is getting colder by the second.
As family liaison officer with the Minneapolis P.D., it’s Afton Tangler’s job to deal with the emotional aftermath of terrible crimes—but she’s never faced a case quite as brutal as this. Each development is more heartbreaking than the last and the only lead is a collection of seemingly unrelated clues.
But, most disturbing of all, Afton begins to suspect that this case is not isolated. Whoever did this has taken babies before—and if Afton doesn’t solve this crime soon, more children are sure to go missing . . . (http://www.penguinrandomhouse.com/books/318391/little-girl-gone-by-gerry-schmitt/)
Gerry Schmitt is the New York Times bestselling author of more than thirty-five mysteries, including the Afton Tangler Thrillers, as well as the Tea Shop, Scrapbooking, and the Cackleberry Club mysteries, written under the pen name Laura Childs. She is the former CEO of her own marketing firm, has won dozens of TV and radio awards, produced two reality TV shows, and invests in small businesses. She and her professor husband enjoy collecting art, traveling, and have two Shar-Peis.
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