The Girls She Left Behind
Sarah Graves
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Buy *The Girls She Left Behind (A Lizzie Snow Novel)* by Sarah Gravesonline

The Girls She Left Behind (A Lizzie Snow Novel)
Sarah Graves
272 pages
January 2016
rated 4 1/2 of 5 possible stars

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Blood calls to blood.

Graves hits the ground running with The Girls She Left Behind, a mystery within a mystery that begins with the abduction of two teenaged cousins. Only one escapes, fearful of sharing her shameful secret. Fifteen years later, three girls are discovered and released from captivity in New Haven, Connecticut, the man responsible arrested. A long nightmare has finally come to an end. Meanwhile, former Boston homicide detective Lizzie Snow has relocated to Bearkill, Maine, the state suffering a spate of fires after a long drought. Locals are concerned about the late-arriving winter and the potential damage of more fires on the horizon.

Part of Lizzie’s decision to move to Maine is her ongoing search for a missing niece after a family tragedy, rumors of possible sightings spreading to more remote geography. Small-town policing is a challenge for a city-trained detective, one Lizzie has met well, even getting a dog for company. In her tiny office, Snow is worrying over the disappearance of a missing girl, Tara Wylie, who has a reputation for running off only to return home before nightfall. But this time she hasn’t returned, and Lizzie suspects the girl is really in trouble. Looking over Tara’s case file, Snow is joined by another former Boston detective, Dylan Hudson, currently with the Maine State Police. The two have a history, as yet unresolved. Dylan’s perspective is welcome, the two sharing ideas as they try to track Tara’s recent movements. The painful affair with Dylan is over, as far as Lizzie is concerned, though his presence in Bearkill doesn’t help in her resolution to resist his charms.

Past and present blend together in the unfolding drama, including the motives of the “monster” Henry Gemerle, who held the girls captive for fifteen years. When a stranger lurks outside Snow’s office, a short interview identifies her as Jane Crimmins, a caretaker of one of Gemerle’s captives, Cam Petry. Jane mutters a garbled story that makes little sense to Snow, who is focused on Tara. Meanwhile, the dry winds and heat continue. The threat of fire in Bearkill becomes a reality, the sky glowing with flames along the horizon.

Trying to piece a case together with fragments from Tara’s reluctant mother, Lizzie is distracted by Crimmins yet feels she shouldn’t discard the woman’s relevance to the current circumstances, the emerging puzzle still too indistinct to suggest a solution. She returns to Tara’s mother again and again, determined to get the woman to tell her secrets. Suddenly Bearkill authorities are alerted that Gemerle has escaped from the institution where he was held, on the loose and possibly headed to Maine, the last known location of Tara Wylie.

Whether grappling with issues in her personal life or investigating every aspect of Tara Wylie’s life and recent activities, Snow juggles conflicting issues, beset with uncooperative witnesses, strange stories, and the creeping threat of fire, plunging into danger with her boss and Dylan when there’s barely time to save the missing girl--if they can find her in a forest filled with smoke and flames. Graves paints a realistic portrait of policing at the edge of the Great North Woods, far removed from big-city anonymity. The characters are authentic and well-developed, the parallel mysteries running together on a collision course where nature becomes another adversary--the tantalizing answers just out of reach.

Originally published on Curled Up With A Good Book at © Luan Gaines, 2016

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