Newest Review: ... of whether she really did run away or if it was something more sinister. The event obviously shook Dees and his wife, LuAnn, to the core... more
Missing Pretty Little Things
Pretty Little Things - Jilliane Hoffman
Member Name: cazkins
Pretty Little Things - Jilliane Hoffman
Advantages: Well written, interesting premise, intelligent & detailed, twists and turns to keep it interesting
Disadvantages: None per se
I hadn't heard of Illiane Hoffman until coming across this in the library. The cover caught my attention so I decided to give it a go, being a sucker for crime thrillers. This was actually a very good read and one that I'd recommend, so I'll keep an eye out for other books of hers in future.
On the cover we're told that this is by the 'Bestselling author of Retribution', in addition to a note that says : 'Guaranteed to follow in the bestselling footsteps of Patricia Cornwell, Kathy Reichs and Karin Slaughter' - Guardian. This made me interested because I'm familiar with the aforementioned authors and really like them, so I hoped that this could be just as good. The tagline on the back reads 'Tempted. Trapped. Tortured', and the blurb suggested it fitted well in to the crime thriller genre.
We're introduced by Special Agent Bobby Dees, who is with the Florida Crimes Against Children squad, FDLE. We learn that his own child, Katy, went missing a year ago, but without any sign of her or information on what could have happened, the question remains of whether she really did run away or if it was something more sinister. The event obviously shook Dees and his wife, LuAnn, to the core, but Dees works cases such as his own all the time. Nevertheless, they've never completely given up hope for finding their child.
So many teens go missing in Florida that it's hard to track them down or have a reason to do so. Amber alerts and such are reserved for when there's reasonable belief that the child is in danger, so signs of a more straightforward runaway, where the child doesn't want to be found, get pushed aside. Dees got the nickname of Shep, the shepherd who tries to bring his flock back home, dead or alive, to their families. Intro the new case of Lainey Emerson, a 13 year old girl who starts chatting to a guy with the screen name of 'El Capitan'.
She secretly meets up with him (the one thing kids are warned not to do!) only she never returns home.
Meanwhile, to cut a long story short, there's a killer on the loose. Does he have Lainey? Mark Fielding, an unrelentless reporter, is the recipient of paintings from the killer, portraits of young females, many of whom have been on the system as runaways. The killer also leaves a little note for Dees to taunt him by way of a newspaper clipping with his name on it. He's playing a game, perhaps begging Dees to catch him, but with no clues or inclination who or where he is, how many other 'runaways' have to die before he's caught?
Because of the pictures he's nicknamed Picasso and it seems, with all the media flurry, that he may have his own collection. I won't say any more on the premise except to say that as the novel continues more suspense is created with Dees trying to get a step ahead of the killer. It was interesting to see how they could deduct any clues from what seemed like nothing, and to see how the various aspects of the crimes and characters come together.
I thought the characters, scenes and atmosphere were fairly well developed, making it easier to identify with what was happening and who was involved. At times, I thought character development could have been deeper, however I was still able to quickly warm to Dees as the protagonist. This made it enjoyable to read, wanting to pick it back up and be able to fall back in to the atmosphere.
Hoffman writes very fluently, keeping us at a good pace throughout without being too slow or going too fast with too many characters to confuse the reader. I really enjoyed his style because it was easy going yet intelligent at the same time; it was a read that required thought and attention, but it wasn't 'demanding' in the sense that I found it easy to read. He's able to build up suspense and emotion quite well, engaging me to read it from start to finish. In addition, any of the chapters are just a few pages in length, making it easier to digest, pick up and read.
On the back is further praise, including : 'Gripping, well-crafted suspense... a belter of a book' - Sunday Express, and 'Hoffman writes like an angel. Oustanding' - Independent On Sunday'. I'd agree with both of these, and definitely think that Hoffman is an author I'll look out for in future.
Overall, I would definitely recommend this for an engaging and enjoyable read with plenty of crime thrills to leave you wanting more.
468 pages over 93 chapters
[Also reviewed by me, Cazkins, on DooYoo]
Summary: An intelligent, gripping & enjoyable crime thriller