After you were gone by Vikki Wakefield

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Fans of Wakefield’s YA fiction will be excited to read her first adult novel, a gripping psychological thriller. How far would you go to find your missing child? Abbie, a single parent, is exhausted and releases 6-year-old Sarah’s hand in a busy market. Sarah disappears and six years later Abbie is finally trying to get her life back together with marriage to an older man when she gets a phone call. The caller appears to know what has happened to Sarah, but Abbie must follow his instructions and let no one know what is happening.

Told in three time frames, Before, Now and After, the reader is taken on a trip through Abbie’s life as a rebellious young teen, an exhausted single parent and a traumatised woman wondering what has happened to her daughter. The thought of losing a child is a nightmare one that Wakefield explores deftly and with empathy.

The story is as much about family relationships and friendships as it is about a dreadful crime. It is easy to relate to Abbie and the difficult feelings she has with her mother, which left me thinking about what makes a perfect mother and how difficult mother/daughter bonds can be. If Abbie is ever going to find her child, how will that relationship end? Is finding out what happened to her child worth losing everything in her life - marriage, reputation and sanity?

Vikki Wakefield is the author of several outstanding YA novels, including the award winning This is how we change the ending and she has made a successful and unforgettable transition to the world of adult crime writing with After you were gone. Fans of The lost man by Jane Harper will find this just as hard to put down.

Themes Child abduction, Family relationship, Single parents, Crime, Psychological thriller.

Pat Pledger