Johnny Merrimon had a picture perfect life with his loving, caring parents and beloved twin sister, Alyssa, in a small North Carolina town until the evening Alyssa disappeared while walking home. After Alyssa vanished, grief destroyed what was left of his family as surely and completely as an atom bomb blast. Johnny's father, wracked by guilt because of the part he unwittingly played in Alyssa's disappearance, deserts his wife and son, while Catherine Merrimon, Johnny's ethereally beautiful mother, dissolves into a drug and drink addled wreck, her condition enabled by a predatory and abusive boyfriend.
Under the circumstances, Johnny is forced to grow up quick, to take care of the parent who should be taking care of him, and to learn to fend for himself. The one thing that sustains him, and keeps him going, is his undying conviction that Alyssa is still alive. He doggedly and painstakingly searches for her, putting himself and his own safety in peril by venturing into dangerous neighbourhoods and confronting registered sex offenders and known pedophiles.
Through it all, watching over him, is Detective Hunt, a seasoned investigator, who is haunted by the case, and has seen his own family disintegrate because of his obsession and refusal to let go.
When a tantalizing clue literally falls at Johnny's feet, the cold case suddenly grows dangerously warm. And a mysterious "gentle giant" escaped convict who hears the voice of God just may hold one of the puzzle pieces that will bring Alyssa back home.
I won't say any more about the plot, as I always hate to spoil a mystery. But if you are interested in mysterious disappearances or like mystery and suspense novels in which a child becomes a junior Sherlock Holmes, I recommend "The Last Child."