Sunday, April 29, 2012

Cemetery Girl by David Bell






Tom and Abby Stuart had a pretty good life in a small Midwestern college town, until the day their daughter, twelve-year-old Caitlin, vanished while walking her dog, Frosty, in the park. Rumors abounded that she had runaway, that she was pregnant, or the victim of an online predator. Doggedly, her parents followed every clue, but they all led nowhere.

As often happens, guilt and anger took their toll, and their marriage couldn’t survive the loss of their daughter. Four years later, Abby wants to put it all behind her, in her quest to move forward she orders a tombstone and arranges a memorial service in the cemetery. She even insists that Tom take Caitlin’s dog to the animal shelter, seeing the old yellow lab as a constant reminder of the tragedy. Tom refuses to attend; he sees it as giving up on Caitlin.

Then a tantalizing clue comes from a stripper dancing at the Love Shack, she claims to have seen Caitlin there in the company of a man in his fifties with a very controlling manner. Then, like a miracle, a dirty and disheveled Caitlin, now sixteen, is found in the cemetery. She refuses to discuss what happened or where she has been the past four years. Her long blonde hair has been crudely hacked off but there is no obvious evidence of assault, though a medical examination reveals that she is no longer a virgin.

When a suspect, fifty-three-year-old John Colter is arrested, Caitlin declares she loves him, that she wants to go back to him, not stay with her parents, and refuses to testify in court against him.

Desperate not to let the man who took his daughter not get away with it, Tom is determined to discover the truth no matter where it leads him.

This was an interesting book, a fast read, and not your typical missing child story. And, true to life, everything isn’t tied up in a neat little ball by the last page, though the book is over, one has the sense that the story will go on; everything will probably work out eventually, but there is still a whiff of uncertainty like the scent of leaves burning in the distance carried on the air.






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