Sunday, January 28, 2024

The Stolen Girls

The Stolen Girls by Jeff Stetson
2/9/24; 382 pages
Storm Publishing

The Stolen Girls by Jeff Stetson is a story about grade school-aged girls being abducted and two fathers working together to find their missing daughters. It is a recommended mystery.

Ron is a widowed single father of eleven-year-old Jennifer who disappears waiting for her father to pick her up after school. A week later twelve-year-old Rebecca disappears on Venice beach when her father, Todd, is getting them food. When the news is immediately focused on Rebecca's disappearance due to her wealthy influential family, Ron busts into the news conference demanding the same kind of attention for his daughter. Todd later reaches out to Ron and the two fathers, from very different backgrounds begin to look together for their missing daughters.

The narrative follows the point-of-view of the fathers, kidnapper, and the girls. The start is promising but the challenge is to lift the plot beyond the expected trajectory of the plot and take it in a unique, unexpected direction because this is a common plot. Alas, that didn't happen which then means going through all the personal reminiscing, soul-seeking, and revelations of the fathers is diminished by the predictable direction the narrative takes.  some connection between the kidnappings should have been investigated.

It was satisfying to see two very different fathers join together to find their daughters and the two police officers understand their positions. Based on the dialogue, the girls seem older than their ages. Perhaps they are just mature for their age, but this isn't a persuasive argument. I'm also not entirely convinced that introducing race and income to the plot helped in the final denouement. Two very different father teaming up was a good choice but to keep mentioning the racial and class differences was too much. 3.5 rounded down. Thanks to Storm Publishing for providing me with an advance reader's copy. My review is voluntary and expresses my honest opinion.

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