Book Title: Little Girl Gone
Author: Gerry Schmitt
Series: Afton Tangler Thriller #1
Genres: Thriller, Suspense, Crime Fiction
Date Read: 07/02/16
Pub Date: 07/05/16
On a frozen night in an affluent neighborhood of Minneapolis, a baby is abducted from her home after her teenage babysitter is violently assaulted. The parents are frantic, the police are baffled, and, with the perpetrator already in the wind, the trail is getting colder by the second.
As family liaison officer with the Minneapolis P.D., it’s Afton Tangler’s job to deal with the emotional aftermath of terrible crimes—but she’s never faced a case quite as brutal as this. Each development is more heartbreaking than the last and the only lead is a collection of seemingly unrelated clues.
But, most disturbing of all, Afton begins to suspect that this case is not isolated. Whoever did this has taken babies before—and if Afton doesn’t solve this crime soon, more children are sure to go missing . . .
This was one of those edge of your seat-biting your nails-ripping your hair out-piling up snacks in your bed and strapping on a clean Depends because you simply can’t risk having to take a potty break kind of reads. Oh, do I have your attention now? Good. I’m quite confident this will be one of Berkley Publishing’s top books in regards of sales and quality of writing for 2016. They timed its release perfectly as this is a fantastic summer read (but really anytime read). It’s the beginning of an addictive new series starring Afton Tangler, a Community Liaison Officer with the Minnesota Police Department.
“Push through the pain, she told herself. They were words that were fast becoming her everyday mantra. A messy divorce had turned her into a single mom again, and her job as community liaison officer for the Minneapolis Police Department meant she had to deal with people in the messy, tragic aftermath of their worst day ever.”
I haven’t quite pegged her yet, as we are still getting to know each other, but she kept me on my toes throughout the entire book. Here is a character who emits strength-single, working mom, climbing dangerous, icy rock walls in her spare time and taking forensics classes in hopes of joining the force as an officer; however, many times throughout the book she was broken, weak, and felt as though she was failing at every step and questioning every moment of her investigation. This might be a turn off to some who enjoy reading only those “superwoman” type protagonists; I personally enjoyed the change of pace and seeing a character who could be strong and weak simultaneously. I think what made this work was the fact that, unlike most crime thriller stories with a female protagonist, she is not in a position of high authority. If fact, she’s quite low on the totem pole of police politics.
Another aspect that made this a 5 star read was the setting. I have a soft spot for the Twin Cities as my husband was temporarily relocated to Minneapolis right after we were married and I was able to travel with him. Since I was completing my college courses online, I was able to do my work and explore the surroundings while he was working, and it was magical. The people were so friendly, but the atmosphere was absolutely breathtaking. I’ll never forget the beautiful homes, the lush, green parks (clearly we weren’t there for winter), and the quaint home town restaurants; that experience allowed me to fully imagine this book as if I was in the picture. The author’s descriptions were so on point, and she used her knowledge of the area to draw you in through the descriptions of the roads and the weather, especially when it came to the ice storms near the end.
The story itself was difficult to peg; it was full on police procedural but this was not really a mystery. Everyone knows that I prefer who-dun-its and figuring out the who, what, and why, but this is a story where you know the who and figure out the why fairly early on (not because of a poorly written mystery, but because this is as its intended). There were some unexpected twists (bless my soul!!!) and I have to admit I actually enjoyed this one and didn’t regret that my detective skills weren’t put to the test. 😉 There are some dark, disturbing concepts discussed per the investigation, and as a mother of a 3 year old and 1 year old, both little girls, I had to remind myself “this story is fiction, this story is fiction, this story is fiction”, even though the scariest part is that it has a VERY realistic aspect to it. In terms of the continuing story/characters, I really love that we are given just enough about our main characters that we are sucked in and left wanting more. I honestly enjoyed the personal storyline of Afton and Max as much as the thrilling action scenes. There is no giant cliffhanger to make you want to slowly peel your fingernails back while waiting for the next book so THAT’S A RELIEF.
Its safe to say that I would highly recommend this one, but I’d go as far as saying this is a must read. Don’t let the word “Girl” in the title fool you; this is nothing like the previous psychological thrillers you’ve read and grown tired of. I swore a few months ago that I would stop picking up books with that dreaded word “Girl” in them, as I was tired of the same old after the first few greats were done, but this isn’t even in the same realm. This book is not about a missing, broken, unreliable narrator; its about a kidnapped baby girl and how far our justice system would go to bring her back. If this is on your TBR list- please move it promptly to the top and pick it up when you have hours to devote to it. You won’t want to put it down!
* I feel its necessary to note, without spoiling the read, that there are a few highly disturbing scenes with triggers involving small children. These are not sexually related and the babies are not physically/violently abused by the captors, but these scenes are crucial to the storyline.
** I’d like to thank Berkley Publishing for sending my a hardcover (how often does that happen?!) and being the coolest publisher on social media to date.