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The Missing    by Chris Mooney order for
by Chris Mooney
Order:  USA  Can
Atria, 2007 (2007)
* *   Reviewed by Martina Bexte

Sixteen year old Darby McCormick and two of her high school friends are out in the woods one night sneaking a few beers when they witness what they believe is a woman being tortured and beaten by a shadowy assailant. The girls are horrified and want to forget what they've seen rather than risk getting into trouble. Darby however, can't look the other way and convinces her friends to do the right thing. Unfortunately, once the girls go to the police, the perpetrator targets them and within weeks one of Darby's friends has gone missing and the other is murdered before her eyes. The violence changes the course of her life; she's riddled with survivor guilt and after the killer's trail goes cold, fears that one day he'll come back to finish the job. Eventually she pursues a career in law enforcement tracking down the worst kinds of criminals.

Currently Darby works out of Boston as a criminal psychologist and investigator. She's one of the first officers on scene when a young local girl goes missing. Carol Cranmore's abduction has all the earmarks of similar crimes carried out by someone the Feds have dubbed The Traveler. Darby soon notices similarities to her own horrifying experience almost two decades before. She and her team realize that for every hour that Carol is missing, hope is fading. However their luck changes when The Traveler makes a mistake - one of his victims manages to escape. Crazed, emaciated and very ill after years of confinement and torture, Jane Doe seems a lost cause. The only one able get through to her is Darby, but even she has trouble deciphering the confusing clues that Jane Doe provides. However, Darby is determined to find Carol before the young teen becomes yet another of The Traveler's long list of victims.

The Missing is another taut, briskly paced and thoroughly engaging page-turner. While Darby's characterization is lackluster, Mooney gets high marks for getting into the disturbing mindset of a sociopath; readers will be alternately fascinated and horrified. Short streamlined chapters and plenty of plot twists move the action along at a fast clip. The story eventually loses its punch as the action winds down to a familiar blood-soaked showdown where only one of the main characters will prevail. However, Mooney redeems himself by providing a clever (if rather abrupt) last minute revelation that he will hopefully re-visit in a sequel.

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