Published by Berkley Trade on June 1, 1998
Genres: Mystery, Suspense
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It is three days before Christmas, and two young girls have disappeared from the local academy. This hasn't happened for fifteen years, since Rouge Kendall's twin sister was murdered. The killer was found, but now Rouge, twenty-five and a policeman, is forced to wonder: was he really the one? Also wondering is a former classmate named Ali Cray, a forensic psychologist with scars of her own. The pattern is the same, she says: a child called out to meet a friend. The friend is the bait, the Judas child, and is quickly killed. But the primary victim lives longer. . .until Christmas day. Rouge doesn't want to hear this. He's spent the last fifteen years trying to avoid the memories. A little girl has haunted his dreams all these years - and he has three days to finally put her to rest.
Two 10-year old girls disappear one afternoon from a small, upstate New York village town. The investigation resurrects the lives of those involved in a similar case from 15-years ago and involves local, state and federal law enforcement departments and agencies.
This is an extraordinary story with vividly drawn characters and venues. Heroes aren’t always completely virtuous and morally challenged individuals can’t be tossed aside. It’s a tough subject matter that can be disturbing at times. I found the tension surrounding the children, whether they were still alive or not, to be almost unbearable at times. There were astonishing twists at the end of the story that I’m still thinking about.
I consider this to be a provocative and well written story. It’s a standalone with characters you’d like to see again. Just be prepared to be uncomfortable if you find it difficult to deal with the possibility of cruel things happening to children.