A regular co-writer with James Patterson, these books are fabulous as either stand alone thrillers or, if you are a pedant like me, you can read them from the start.
All of the books contain enough detail about the previous ones to make the reader want to read the other 2 but they do not exclude the casual reader.
In ‘Gone By Midnight’, 4 sets of parents (3 couples and a single mum) , each with a single male child, have booked into White Caps hotel for a break near Crimson Lake. All are finding that managing a boisterous, single child is hard work and easier to manage the boys en masse.
The adults use the hotel dining room at night with an agreed upon checker to look in on the locked up boys, all in one room, every hour on the hour.
The last check of the night, just before midnight reveals that one of the boys, 8 year old Richie Farrow, has vanished.
But how can a boy disappear from a locked room, completely unnoticed?
And how does he vanish without the other 3, articulate and old enough to create a fuss if someone breaks in, noticing?
Who was the ‘pizza man’ that they opened the door to and how did they manage to open the door?
Ted Conkaffey and Amanda Pharrell are brought in to assist the police, much against the local cops wishes, on the behest of Sara Farrow-the missing child’s mother.
Still reeling from being falsely accused of assault and tried in the court of public opinion, the last thing that Ted needs is 2 misunderstanding cops erroneously arresting him instead of bringing him in to the police station subtly. AND in front of all the local media who made his life hell, slap bang in the middle of the tentative custody negotiations he has with his ex wife over their young daughter.
Sara’s motives are not easy to fathom but soon become clear-she has secrets of her own as does her ex-husband, Henry.
The maintenance man, Dylan Hogan, has his own motivation for staying beneath the police radar.
And there is a known to the police paedophile not too far from the hotel who does not have an alibi for the night in question…
This is a race against time for Ted and Amanda who are trying to find a missing boy before it becomes a hunt for a body. They are having to deal with uncooperative police , the media and witnesses who have a habit of vanishing overnight.
‘He doesn’t want me hanging around here with you guys, ‘Amanda said, ‘I don’t get it.’
‘I don’t know why he worries about us, ‘Bruce said. ‘Bad people are predictable. We’ll always do the wrong thing. It’s easier.It’s faster .Cops and heroes-those are the ones you have to worry about. The temptation is always there to cross over, to cut corners, to break the rules. Good people are always treading water, trying not to drown. Bottom-dwellers like us have gills.’
‘Gone By Midnight’ is wonderfully paced, it does not go so quickly that you have to re-read earlier parts, and it concentrates on character development without sacrificing the plot. The plot fairly rattles along, without being so complicated that it loses you.
You have your heart in your throat as revelation after revelation threaten to blindside Ted and Amanda. It’s one of those reads where you don’t realise that you are holding your breath, until something drags your attention away(like a cat launching itself at your lap or your telephone ringing, or someone asking what you are reading…don’t you just hate that when you are completely immersed? But I digress..).
The tension is superbly constructed, you are urging both Ted and Amanda to find Richie but at the same time Candice Fox plays with them a unreliable narrators . Normally I am not a fan of swapping from first to third person narration in a book, but I really enjoyed this.
I would honestly say that ‘Gone By Midnight’ held me in a vice like grip before shaking me free, gasping. It keeps you hooked till the very last page .
Click on the link to read an extract from ‘Crimson Lake’ courtesy of Dead Good Reads and see for yourself!