This is an easy to read fast paced mystery/thriller.
We meet Finn, a 41 year old financial trader who lives with his fiancée near Cheltenham. 12 years earlier Finn experienced an awful tragedy when his much loved girlfriend, Layla, disappeared – assumed kidnapped and murdered – while they were on holiday in France. After briefly being a suspect Finn was released without charge and has worked hard to rebuild his life and has finally found love again. But no body was ever found, so closure has not come easily.
His uneasy peace is then blown away. An old neighbour reports seeing Layla at their old cottage in Devon. There have been fake sightings before, all turned out to be hoaxes or mistakes, but this is different, the old man knew Layla well plus it coincides with other strange happenings. Layla always carried the smallest of a Russian doll set as a good luck charm and childhood memento, tiny Russian dolls start appearing on the walls near Finn’s house, they are sent to him in the post and left for him to find in other places he visits. He also starts receiving emails from a stranger, again this has happened before with trouble makers and attentions seekers claiming to know where his lost girlfriend is, but this stranger seems to know things only he or Layla would know.
Despite this Finn is adamant Layla is dead and it must be a hoax or cruel trick. But why is he so certain? Has he been telling the full truth all these years? Does he know more than he has told the police? And if so, why did he lie? What is he hiding?
It’s a great set up to a mystery. I really enjoyed the early stages and trying to guess the twist I felt was coming (in case you are wondering, I suspected from page 15, convinced by page 136 – well done me!) One reasons I enjoy mysteries is trying to guess the twist and in my experience guessing it either right or wrong needn’t spoil the rest of the book. But in this case I do feel the story went downhill a little towards the end. I liked the idea Paris had but didn’t feel it was perfectly executed and at times the plot veered from ‘crazy but possible’ to far-fetched.
Still a very good read and hard to put down once you have started. I look forward to reading more from B.A. Paris.