On a stifling summer’s day, eleven-year-old Jack and his two sisters sit in their broken-down car, waiting for their mother to come back and rescue them. Jack’s in charge, she said. I won’t be long.
But she doesn’t come back. She never comes back. And life as the children know it is changed for ever.
Three years later, mum-to-be Catherine wakes to find a knife beside her bed, and a note that says: I could have killed you.
Meanwhile Jack is still in charge – of his sisters, of supporting them all, of making sure nobody knows they’re alone in the house, and – quite suddenly – of finding out the truth about what happened to his mother.
But the truth can be a dangerous thing . . .
It’s a scorching hot day. Eileen Bright is driving along with her three young children when her car runs out of fuel. Eileen is heavily pregnant, and decides to try her luck at getting to the emergency telephone on the roadside, to call for help. As she tells the children to stay where they are, she tells eldest child Jack (11), “I won’t be long, you’re in charge”.
But she is gone a long time. Scared, thirsty and desperate, Jack takes his unwelcome responsibility very seriously, and gets his litte sister Joy (9) and baby Merry (2) from the car. Together they make their way along the road to the emergency phone. When they get to it, they realise the receiver is hanging down uselessly, and worse still, there is no sign of their Mum.
Tragically, Eileen never comes back. Police are swarming all over the house, things are unravelling day by day, and Jack’s dad just cannot cope. Leaving the children to fend for themselves, he disappears. Three years later we catch up with Jack, now fifteen, a petty criminal, and sole (unofficial) carer for his sisters.
Not far away, investigating a spate of robberies in the area by a mysterious burglar called ‘Goldilocks’ (I’ll let you find out why), are DCI Marvel and DS Reynolds. Marvel is permanently outraged at being sent to Somerset to investigate ‘cozy’ crime such as burglaries, when he is used to the hustle and bustle of a good murder case, and Reynolds is desperate to impress his boss, who simply isn’t interested. The two are clumsily thrown together, and don’t exactly hit it off.
Onto our next character: Catherine White. Expecting her first baby, Catherine thinks she hears an intruder in the house while her husband, Adam, is away. After convincing herself it’s nothing more than a trick of her overactive imagination, she returns to her bedroom to find a knife on her bed, next to note that says ‘I could have killed you’. For some reason, she decides to not report this to the police and also to hide this from her husband, an action which results in some unpleasant consequences as events unfold.
As the book progresses, these 3 threads cross, collide and start to twist together. Jack’s dream of finally getting his hands on the person that took his family away from him seems to be getting ever closer. Marvel and Reynolds have almost got their man. Catherine and Adam’s cozy litle life is begininng to unravel.
It’s a well thought out plot with engaging characters, some more realistic than others. I found some of the areas surrounding the police procedures to be unrealistic, which spoiled it a little for me. Also, I didn’t really like most of the characters, so with the exception of Jack and his little family, I didn’t really care much what happened to them.
However I did enjoy this book, and I will look out for others by this author.