For 3,110 days Lily Riser has been held prisoner, with little opportunity to attempt escape. Then one night she realises that her captor has made a mistake and not bolted the door. Grabbing her six-year old daughter Sky, she makes a break for it. If Lily thought that escaping was difficult, she is little prepared for the aftermath of her escape.
After eight years, her instinct is to try to get back to her home even though she has no idea if her family still live there. Lily's delight at finding her mother Eve at home is tempered by the discovery that her father died shortly after she was abducted. The next priority for Lily is seeing her twin Abby, who has never given up hope of her being alive.
While Lily has been in captivity, life in many ways has been in limbo for her family and for Wes, the boyfriend she had at the time. The shared grief of Abby and Wes brought them close; and following an on/off relationship Abby is expecting their baby. Abby cannot stop thinking of Lily - on her return how do they explain things to her? Lily also has the small matter of talking to the police and convincing them that she was abducted and imprisoned by Rick Hanson, pillar of the community and also a very popular teacher.
The story unfolds through the eyes of Lily, Eve, Abby and Rick; each has dedicated chapters. The characters are well drawn but also defined by the effect of Lily's abduction on their lives. Lily has had her focus on staying alive and keeping Sky safe, Abby is riddled by guilt over the circumstances that led to Lily being alone when she was abducted and Eve almost goes to pieces at the sight of Lily. Trying to put life back together, especially in the glare of all the publicity that Lily's return has generated is difficult; Abby's feisty temper and impetuous behaviour compound the difficulty. The most revealing and unpleasant chapters are those of Rick; his sadistic, manipulative and ruthless character is fully revealed. Lily has to try to explain to Sky about the father whom Sky loves and fears in equal measure whilst making her feel secure in an unfamiliar environment.
This is less a crime story and more an exploration of the effects of crime on the victim and those close to it. The fickleness of the media circus that accompanies such an event, the backlash of public opinion and the process of justice all contribute to a well-developed story. The horrors and lurid details of the situation Lily has endured, which the newspapers are desperate to get hold of, are not dwelt on but are revealed organically with the development of the story.
This is a compelling read and an accomplished first novel.