Written by Joan Hall Hovey — Joan Hall Hovey is not a household name yet, but this Canadian writer has been quietly and steadily publishing suspense novels for the past 10 years. The Abduction of Mary Rose is her fifth and most recent novel, and the first one I’ve read. However, on the strength of this novel I would say it won’t be the last work by her that I’ll read.
The book opens with a tense scene set in 1982, a scene that will spark the primal fears of any female reader. A teenage Native American girl is hurrying home in the dark when a car slows down behind her and a young man starts calling after her. We are in no doubt that this scene will end badly, although the author spares us the gruesome details. The story then jumps to 2010 and we are left wondering what the connection is between events past and present.
The main story is that of Naomi, whose mother is dying in hospital. Her aunt Edna has never liked her and has no qualms about revealing, in a very cruel and public manner, that Naomi does not really ‘belong’ to their family because she was adopted as a baby. Shocked and betrayed, Naomi sets out to uncover the truth about her birth and to seek vengeance for the tragic end of her natural mother. Although she is helped in her quest by her mother’s long-term friend and lawyer, and by a young journalist, she finds herself very much alone and exposed as she closes in on the killer.
This is a competently written book, and the discussion of attitudes towards the bullying, rape and violence against minority women is clearly still very topical. Although we find out quite early on who the killer is, the author still managers to create suspense through anticipation and some unexpected twists, rather than through graphic violent details. She also cleverly interweaves elements of Native American beliefs and traditions, without letting them take over the plot unnecessarily. While the main character is well defined and almost insanely brave (or stubborn), I did feel some of the others could have been developed a bit further.
A short, enjoyable read for fans of suspense, that will keep you entertained and guessing.
Books We Love
CFL Rating: 3 Stars