Fast-paced action thriller

2011-03-09 00:00

AMANDA Coetzee lives in South Africa but grew up in England, and has set her first novel there. It is a pacy thriller, opening in 1985 when a mother abandons her eight-year-old son at a fairground, leaving him with a note that one day she will return for him. But she never does.

Fast-forward to 2009. The abandoned child, brought up by the travellers who ran the fairground and with his name changed a couple of times, is now Detective Inspector Harry O’Connor, having in turn abandoned his gypsy upbringing and joined the Metropolitan police. Then a gypsy child goes missing, and he is needed as the only cop who can establish any kind of relationship with the ostracised traveller community.

Working on the periphery of the police investigation, and more closely with a Social Services liaison officer, Harry begins to find a pattern of child abductions and murders that goes back 24 years. It is a race against time to see whether he can rescue the missing child and catch the person responsible, a person to whom he is linked in ways he can hardly comprehend.

The action is relentless, which allows the reader not to worry too much about the inherent unlikeliness of the plot. It is a lively, entertaining read: the kind of novel to be finished at a sitting.

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