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Book Review: The Dollmaker by Amanda Stevens

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From the genteel shops lining the French Quarter of New Orleans to the forbidden bayous in the surrounding parishes, The Dollmaker by Amanda Stevens is a terrifying thriller that works equally well as an investigative detective story.

A parent's worst nightmare: their child disappears, apparently the result of a kidnapping. The first 48 hours are critical: if the child isn't located within that time, the chance of the child returning safely are remote. For Claire Doucett, it's been seven years since her daughter Ruby was taken from her, yet she still believes she may be alive.

Then Claire spies a most life-like doll in a store window, a doll that eerily resembles her daughter. Even the doll's dress matches what Ruby was wearing when she disappeared. In her haste to visit the store, Claire is involved in an accident that puts her in the hospital. But then the doll vanishes, the store owner found murdered.

Convinced the doll is related in some way to Ruby's kidnapping, Claire turns to her ex-husband, a disgraced NOPD cop who was involved in the destruction of evidence in the case of a murdered stripper about the same time their daughter was taken.

The first half of The Dollmaker is absolutely electrifying, drawing the reader into Claire's torment as a mother who's lost her daughter but holds out hope that she may be recovered. The idea that someone has taken a little girl for the purposes of making a doll is unthinkable, yet Stevens' crisp writing makes it all too believable.

Then the plot shifts its focus to Claire's ex-husband, Dave. It's here that the detective story begins, and though the transition is rather abrupt, there is no loss of continuity. Dave is equally anguished by events surrounding his daughter's kidnapping and is unexpectedly presented with an opportunity to redeem himself for past indiscretions.

While the kidnapper's identity is not a surprise (his character's background is chronicled every few chapters), and the ending is a bit too theatrical, Stevens cleverly brings everything together in a satisfying conclusion to this riveting mystery.

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  • Fantastic review! You’ve piqued my interest with this one.