- Book: Stolen
- Location: Florida, South London
- Author: Tess Stimson
This as another audiobook discovery for those coming-out-of-lockdown walks and I have to say I was gripped by the storyline.
As the novel opens Alex Martini is flying to Florida with her three year old daughter Lottie to attend her good friend’s wedding. We already have a peek into their lives and their relationship and it is clear that motherhood is proving quite a challenge for mum – Lottie is quite a headstrong little girl. Alex is a single parent now because Lottie’s father died in the Genoa Bridge disaster of 2018.
In Florida, Lottie is going to be a flower girl and the evening prior to the marriage ceremony, there is a dinner party where the characters are introduced. The wedding goes according to plan and the ensuing party gets underway. Alex allows her attention to wander and Lottie is last seen with the other flower girls. It is clear several hours later that Lottie now is missing.
The author is skilled at ratcheting up panic and fear as the hours pass, and there is no sign of the little girl Alex feels that Lottie must have gone with someone familiar, as stranger danger had been drummed into her. And yet, the scary image of abductors, their opportunism and remit keep straying into her consciousness, and she is all too aware of the potential consequences. Alex is a human rights lawyer, who understands fully that there are some truly bad people out there.
Soon Lottie’s disappearance is all over the news and even the then President gets involved, sparking outrage (as always). The author highlights the issue that Lottie is a white female and all the stops are pulled out to investigate. Yet there are children of different ethnicities who have also gone missing but who get no coverage whatsoever. Lottie is at the heart of a global investigation and parallels are drawn with the Madeleine McCann case. The journalists soon start to delve into the family’s personal circumstances and with a bit of dirt, they have their mileage. The author is also incisive about how people will hijack a story, purely for their own ends, irrespective of the feelings of the parties at the heart.
There are plenty of twists and turns and some good insights into how the press and politicos can exert influence over the trajectory of the story as it unfolds. As time ticks by, Alex’s stress becomes intolerable and the author depicts a woman barely coping.
This is a powerful novel that had me on the edge of my seat.
Location, in terms of TripFiction, isn’t altogether strong but the author differentiates between the humid heat of Florida and the grey streets of London.