Little Girl Lost (DI Robyn Carter, Book 1), by Carol Wyer
This is the first book featuring Detective Inspector (DI) Robyn Carter. The book came out in early 2017 and there are already two sequels.
Carol Wyer has created a deep and interesting detective. As the book opens Robyn Carter has been on an extended leave from the police force and is now helping her cousin, a former member of the force, in his work as a private detective. It’s not immediately clear what put Carter on leave although as the book progresses we learn the full tragedy behind it.
Meanwhile we’re introduced to Alice, the daughter of a beautiful but damaged mother. In alternating chapters we learn about a sordid life of molestation and child prostitution that gradually leads her to a life of revenge killings.
We also learn about Abigail whose daughter is stolen from her car. This is the event that brings Carter back from her leave early and sets her on an extended investigation of what she feels are the ties between the kidnapping and a series of murders.
Most of this isn’t an unusual mash of ideas for a mystery/thriller. The depth of Robyn Carter is solidly good, as is a mystery where the reader senses that Alice is close to Abigail somehow but not who it is or why. This is well plotted and leads to a very good ending to wrap things up.
There are a couple of things the author could have tossed out that would have helped more than hurt the overall story. One small thing is Carter has a sympathetic boss on the force, but there’s the old trope tension of the boss pushing back on Carter’s tendency to go with her hunches rather than follow the evidence. This may have been interesting the first thousand times it showed up in a novel, movie, or TV series. By 1960 it had pretty much worn out its welcome. How nice it would be to see a boss who’s supportive of successful detectives.
The real joy-killer of the book are some of the lengthy monologues by some of the characters. I appreciate that Wyer thoroughly thought out her characters. Trust me, that will come out without every one of them revealing an autobiography to a yes or no question. As it stands, these short stories within a novel end up sounding like the witnesses on the old Dragnet series, or Grandpa Simpson telling Bart one of his childhood memories. Instead of adding interest to the novel I kept thinking “OMG, just shut up and get to the point!” Of course I think that when people talk to me in the real world and that may be why I usually prefer reading.