by Helen Callaghan
In her guise as ‘Dear Amy’, agony aunt for a local newspaper, Margot Lewis has dealt with all sorts of letters – but never one like this…
I’ve been kidnapped by a strange man.
I don’t know where I am.
Please help me,
This must be a cruel hoax. Because Bethan Avery has been missing for nearly two decades.
But as the present-day search intensifies for another missing schoolgirl, Margot is unnerved enough to take the letter to the police, hoping they will dismiss it as a sick joke.
Instead, they let Margot in on a little secret. One that confirms her darkest fears and tangles her up in the search for the sender, which could save one young girl’s life and cost Margot her own…
Reviews I’ve seen for “Dear Amy” are mixed and I have to say, I agree. A book of two halves; the first I loved, the latter I didn’t.
Helen Callaghan‘s story begins when local schoolgirl Katie Browne goes missing. A few weeks later, newspaper agony aunt Margot Lewis receives handwritten letters from a missing girl believed to have died 20 years earlier.
As soon as I read the synopsis I was intrigued, I wanted to find out more and as soon as I started reading the book, I was instantly hooked. Callaghan always had me guessing, I was thinking about the story even when I wasn’t reading. One of the things I enjoyed was the character of Margot, well developed and detailed, she had a lot more personality than the typical woman in a thriller. Her background, comic personality and individual habits are explained through her interactions with those she comes across and described through her work as a school teacher and relationship breakdown after only a few years. As the tension continued to build, I truly thought I’d be leaving a five star review for this one.
Sadly, my opinions of “Dear Amy” dropped dramatically at the twist which came just beyond the halfway mark. Without revealing too much, the story became very unrealistic and too far-fetched for me to connect with. It was at this point that I started to lose interest in the plot and tried to complete the rest as quickly as possible. Much of the action is hard to follow and I found myself flicking back to clarify what was going on. The final chapters drag, they are extremely long, dramatic and somewhat implausible and unfortunately I was glad to reach the end.
This book would have benefited from short snappy chapters to keep up the pace and at 352 pages, it could also have been a little shorter in length. I probably would have been happy with a far fetched ending here, but this one just went too far.
Overall rating: A psychological thriller to start which becomes unrealistic and disappointing. After an exciting and gripping first half, I was so upset to see this book go down hill and couldn’t connect with the remaining half. I’m sadly giving “Dear Amy” 3 stars.