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When Jason Danvers’s sister shows up in the middle of the night asking for a favor, his immediate impulse is not to get involved. He’d caught glimpses of her around town and convinced himself it couldn’t be her – it’s been five years, after all, and their parting that last time wasn’t under the best of circumstances. But Hayden swears all of that has changed. She has a job, she’s been sober for some time, and now she’s looking to make amends for her past.

All Hayden asks is that Jason and his wife watch her daughter for two days. Should be easy. And Jason hasn’t seen his niece for quite some time, so it would be a nice chance to bond with her. But things quickly go downhill. An old classmate reports seeing Hayden hanging with her old crowd, possibly drinking once again, and then she sends a strange text to her daughter before breaking all contact. Jason wants to give his sister the benefit of the doubt and wait out the two days, but when Hayden doesn’t show up to pick up her daughter it’s clear something has gone very wrong.

David Bell sure knows how to build a suspenseful story. The Forgotten Girl begins with a teen Jason being picked up by the police after a fight with his best friend. Flash forward to present day and we find that said friend left town that very night and hasn’t been seen since. In fact, a classmate has been trying to find him and starts picking Jason’s brain about his whereabouts.

It’s understandable, then, that Jason is feeling a little nostalgic and a little emotional about his past when Hayden appears. And then when Hayden disappears, Jason’s determined not to lose another person from his life.

Bell’s ending unfortunately didn’t quite mesh with the pacing or the tension of the rest of the book. All in all it’s a fine read, but the finish was somewhat underwhelming.

10/14 Becky LeJeune

THE FORGOTTEN GIRL by David Bell. NAL Trade (October 7, 2014). ISBN 978-0451417527. 448p.

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