Small towns are often a draw for families, a place of safety for their children to grow up. The closeness offers the ability for their family to grow up in the safety of friends. Danger lurks in unexpected places, and small towns are not exempt. The danger the perceived safety imposes offers those who prey on others an opportunity often unavailable where the parent has less trust.
In Clementine’s Shadow by Peggy Rothschild, we follow the life of one father brought to his knees by the disappearance of his own child. Winston has been a mess his whole life and feels the only thing he has ever excelled at is being a father. While his ex-wife uses his little girl Tiny to get what she wants from him, he has always felt that she still had Tiny’s best interests at heart. So when she sends her off on her own during a concert to find him, he is infuriated. That quickly changes to fear as she cannot be located.
Casey is on the case with the police from the beginning. She is still having issues from a past she is trying to escape, but she knows she must put aside her own challenges to find a missing child. Jane too is drawn into the fray when she hears about the kidnapping. A teenager, Jane has an anger problem; she carries a secret that draws her into the search for a little girl that has somehow drawn the eye of evil.
When Casey digs deeper into the morass of evidence and the possible suspects, she is surprised to find that this is not the first crime of this kind. Yet why is the other kidnapping not on the books? Why does no one know about a previous crime? Something is wrong, but who does she trust?
As Casey, Winston, and Jane are drawn into the desert in the search of a killer, danger rears its ugly head. Casey must find a way to make sense of what is happening and keep the others safe. They have no business in this dangerous investigation. Can she do her job, without risking the child or the others, as the one responsible calling all the shots?
Rothschild has given us a thriller with heart. The anger and fear hides the truth of the heart in her characters. The prickly surface hides a maelstrom of emotion only hinted at through the actions that guide them. You will find yourself their cheering section as they allow their emotions and actions to lead them into danger in an effort to strengthen their own psyche. The rescue of the little girl will either make them or break them. There is sadness, horror and humor threaded through the action, and the ending will keep you guessing.
If you enjoy mysteries you will fill your needs with this novel. It is clever and interesting, with a dangerous off kilter ending. This would be a great book for your library; Peggy Rothschild is an author to watch for.