‘The Girl You Lost’ by Kathryn Croft (@KatCroft) – Secrets and Lies

I would like to thank Net Galley and Bookouture for my copy of The Girl You Lost by Kathryn Croft in exchange for my review.

New parents, Simone and Matt, love their little daughter Helena dearly, but in a small flat, with Matt trying hard to study for his degree and with Simone putting her studies on hold, a little quiet time for just themselves is hard to come by. When Matt asks his mother to take Helena for a few hours, Simone wraps her up warm and waves her goodbye, little knowing how, in just a few short hours, her life will change for good.

Fast forward eighteen years and Simone and Matt are now married, having fought hard to stay together following their daughter’s abduction. Matt has completed his medical degree and Simone has finally finished her studies in journalism. They never had another child, and they never truly forgot Helena, trying to accept that after a long search, their child was gone. So when Simone is stopped in the street by a young woman who claims to have information about their daughter, Simone is torn between her distrust of the woman and her overwhelming need for answers. Something within the complex tale that Grace tells Simone intrigues the journalist within her, and whether or not she truly believes Grace’s story, she knows that there is something more to it than meets the eye.

‘The Girl You Lost’ is far from being a simple tale of child abduction and family lies. Interwoven with Simone and Grace’s story is the case of a missing woman, Charlotte Bray, who has been missing for two weeks and whose family Simone reaches out to in order to get an exclusive report, using her own story to bond with the distraught mother. This story in itself is more complex than first thought and when Grace too appears to go missing, Simone and her colleague Abbot start to investigate, finding ultimately that there is no such thing as a coincidence.

Written from Simone’s point of view, chapters are interspersed with flashback scenes, where a second, undisclosed voice, takes us back through events which clearly link to the action in the present day, but do not become clear to quite how or why until near to the end of the novel. It is safe to say that while I was suspicious of one of the characters fairly early on, the final twist is not one I saw coming.

I found the pacing to be just right, carrying me along with the story right to the end, and while elements of the story were not necessarily pleasant, they were not unnecessarily graphic either. As it does focus on sexual assault and the non-repentance of those who carry it out, then as a reader, if this is a trigger, you may want to exercise some caution. It is not glorified in anyway, but it is a key part of the story and informs just how and why things happen the way they do.

I have not read anything by Kathryn Croft before but I would happily do so again. Her writing style is fluid and easily accessible and I found myself easily accepting Simone’s struggle between believing in Grace’s story and her reluctance to accept that it may be possible to find her daughter after all of this time. I also really liked the character of Abbot who supported Simone throughout (his confession to her really didn’t come as a surprise). In fact, all of the characters were well developed and observed, with the villain of the piece suitably manipulative, an air of a sociopath about him, truly showing no remorse for his actions. I would definitely recommend this book to anyone who likes a good, well written psychological thriller to get their teeth into.

5 stars