Little Girl Gone by Gerry Schmitt
My rating: 3 of 5 stars
Afton Tangler is halfway up a cold, icy mountain ledge when the call comes in: a three-month old baby, Elizabeth Ann, has vanished, taken from her home in the middle of the night. The little girl's babysitter is in the hospital after being assaulted, and Elizabeth Ann's wealthy parents are frantic. Afton, a family liaison officer for the Minneapolis Police Department, must console the baby's parents, Susan and Richard Darden. Besides her ice climbing hobby, Afton is also an aspiring police officer, so when the lead detective on the case, Max, has her tag along, she does, trying to untangle the weird web of clues that accompanies this sad case. Who was the strange man, pretending to deliver a pizza, who attacked the babysitter? Is he connected to a woman at a doll show that interacted with Susan? Is Richard's recent job switch a factor? Will a ransom call come in? As Afton and Max race to find Elizabeth Ann, the web only thickens, and they become more frantic to find Elizabeth Ann before it's too late.
This was an interesting mystery novel. I won't lie: the writing is wooden and clunky to say the least. It's certainly not the smoothly written thriller of a say a Tana French or Mary Kubica, whose books I've recently read. Further, the plot is really preposterous at times, and it's crazy to watch Afton, who should really be sitting at a desk and chatting with families, out solving crimes, chasing bad guys, and scaling cliffs (seriously). That being said, you can't help develop but an affinity for Ms. Afton Tangler. She's amazingly good at untangling a mystery (a little too good at times), but she's also incredibly plucky and genuine. She's like a Melissa McCarthy character in "Spy" or "Bridesmaids" - she's so herself that you fall for her in spite of yourself.
I also always find it impressive when authors can make a book suspenseful even when we know who "did it" from the beginning. Little Girl Gone is told from the ever-popular multi-character POV, so we hear from Afton, but also Susan, and several characters related to the crime itself. So while we see the crime unfold and know exactly who took the Elizabeth Ann, Schmitt still does a good job of making the book exciting as Afton and Max attempt to find the little girl and reunite her with her parents. Because of that, plus Afton's tenacious character, I will still give this one 3 stars, despite some of the crazy plot holes and the occasional less than stellar writing.
I received a copy of this book from the publisher and Netgalley (thank you); it is available everywhere as of 07/05/2016.
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