Chris Mooney






1st Darby McCormick book
Simon & Schuster/ATRIA, Mar 2007
Reviewed by Joy Calderwood

Northeast US

Melanie's sixteenth birthday. Celebrating in the woods with a beer, three girlfriends witness a murder. Fleeing doesn't help. Soon Darby McCormick is the only one of the three left alive.

Twenty-three years later, Darby's early experiences with law enforcement have led her to make a career of it. Even so, she doesn't immediately pick up on clues that the same murderer is back and operating in her area again. She only knows that a young woman has been abducted; another woman, terrorized, has been found under the violated house. Many years of terror and illness have left the potential witness unable to help them.

We know the connection, however, because we watch Daniel Boyle watch Darby and plan. We see him lay an unshakable trail of clues toward another mass murderer, as yet uncaptured, and we watch Darby and her fellow investigators "cleverly" unravel the clues Daniel is leaving. It is a long time before they realize the presence of Daniel, much less his cousin Richard, who gives him the advice that has kept him safe for so long.

The result is an intriguing mesh of moves and countermoves. Darby's teenaged loss of her friends fuels her determination to rescue Carol, the newly abducted woman, and that pursuit makes it more likely Daniel will kill his prisoner. THE MISSING has a tense trajectory toward a revelation that left me frozen in shock. 

Darby's character is the light that illuminates all the characters around her. My impression was that the victims and the criminals were Darby's most vivid associates, vibrant with a dark energy. But association with Darby brings out the spirit in her beleaguered colleagues as well. 

The descriptions of the lives of the abducted women is very finely judged. The reader will be horrified without being sickened the difference between an enjoyable read or not. THE MISSING is an enjoyable read, almost a challenging one. 

Chris Mooney is the author of REMEMBERING SARAH, which was nominated for an Edgar. The second Darby McCormick book, THE SECRET FRIEND, was just released in the UK. THE MISSING is a good reason to read it.

Aug 2008


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