Thinking back, it was one of those unusual summers when Emily and Alice were 12 and carefree – extremely warm, which in the UK is never guaranteed. This ultimately led to kids having water fights and adults socialising over BBQs and cold glasses of wine. That was until the night of August Bank Holiday; the night when Alice disappeared.
The parents of Pear Tree Close never thought something like that would happen on their street. It was a sleepy but safe, up and coming estate; a highly-sort-after estate in fact. When the adults wanted to socialise together, they didn’t worry about babysitters, there really was no need. They instead took it in turns to wander back to their own homes every hour or so to check on their little, sleeping cherubs. Back doors were never locked and everyone knew everyone so what harm was there?
Then the unimaginable happened: one of them literally disappeared without a trace and Pear Tree Close would never ever be the same again.
Will anyone ever find out what happened to Alice, or is it destined to remain a mystery forever?
Alice’s best friend, Emily, hasn’t been back to the street for more than 20 years. Shortly after Alice went missing her parents moved the family away and she made the choice never to return.
But now something has happened. Another child has gone missing and Alice’s magazine editor is sending her back to try and get the scoop of the year, but whether this is a wise decision is unclear.
Emily gets in touch with Helen, Alice’s mum, hoping to gain the opportunity to sit down with her to discuss that awful night in more detail but never expected that she would insist that she stay with her, in her missing best friend’s house. Will it help both Emily and Helen or bring back too many heartbreaking memories?
Emily’s editor also wants Helen’s thoughts on what is going on with the latest abduction. Are the 2 cases, even though 25 years apart, linked in some way?
When Emily starts to dig further into the past though, it seems that it’s not just Alice and another little girl that have gone missing. Five years ago, Alice’s dad walked out on Helen, never to be seen again, where is he now and does he have anything to do with his daughter’s disappearance?
This time, Emily is determined to finally find out what has happened to her childhood friend and if she stumbles upon answers for the other disappearances along the way then her boss will be happy as well.
It soon becomes clear that she is upsetting some people however when one evening, the house is broken into and her laptop and childhood diary are taken. Someone wants the secrets to remain deeply buried and they appear to be willing to go to any length to achieve it.
Slightly uncomfortable and uneasy with everything that is going on, Emily enlisted the help of her brother Adam, but can she find out the truth without ending up dead herself? Will uncovering the answers to this big mystery really help her move on with her own life?
My Thoughts on Damaged
Dan Scottow’s narrative is in places frighteningly close to other true new stories of the past few years. As soon as I opened the pages of this novel I wondered whether it was in part based on the Madeline McCann mystery but I think the similarities only really go as far as the children being left alone while the parents socialise in the evening over a glass of wine and a nice meal. What I do however believe is that this story is loosely based on several different abduction cases that have happened over the years, giving it a very authentic feel.
At times the plot of Damaged is quite distressing to read, perhaps because there is a real implication to it. We read about how not just a family, but a whole community fall apart following the disappearance of a young child, and I can only imagine that the feelings explored here and the guilt felt is actually very real for those going through something similar.
It is not a story that will appeal to everyone because of the nature of the content, but if you enjoy crime thrillers and can cope with the subject matter, this is a tense, dark and dramatic novel with occasional horrific descriptions of what a cruel psychopath is capable of. It is an unsettling read that you will struggle to put down.
Have you read Damaged by Dan Scottow?
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