Desert Isle Keeper
If you’re someone who judges the merits of a book by the blurb on the jacket, I implore you to give Haylen Beck’s Lost You a second look. True, it’s another thriller centered around the disappearance of a child (in this case, a little boy), but there’s so much more than that beneath the surface. It’s one of those books that’s just waiting for you to plumb its hidden depths, and once you start, you absolutely will not be sorry.
It’s been a long road, but things are finally starting to look up for Libby and her young son Ethan. She’s recently sold her first novel, and she’s finally stopped thinking about her ex-husband at every turn. The two haven’t spoken since he left Libby not long after Ethan’s birth, claiming not to be able to deal with the stress involved in parenting an infant. Fortunately, Libby has managed just fine on her own, and Ethan is a happy, healthy little boy, brimming with curiosity and good cheer.
To celebrate the sale of her novel, Libby books a vacation for herself and Ethan at a luxurious resort. It might have been nice to get away on her own, but there’s no one she trusts to look after Ethan while she’s gone, and she figures it’s better to take him with her than to spend her entire vacation worrying about his welfare. He’ll enjoy spending time on the beach, and Libby might indulge in a few evening activities if the hotel can recommend a responsible sitter.
When they arrive at the resort, Libby tries hard to enjoy herself, and succeeds for the most part. Even so, she’s hyper alert to Ethan’s every move, and if he’s out of her sight for even an instant, she panics. It’s clear to the reader that she’s afraid of someone or something, but the reason for her fear is unclear for quite a while.
Three days into their vacation, the unthinkable happens. Ethan darts into an open elevator, he door closes before Libby can intervene, and Ethan is gone. A frightened Libby is desperate to find her son, but when the elevator door opens, Ethan is nowhere to be found.
Now Libby and the resort staff must scour every inch of the property in hopes of finding Ethan before he is harmed, and, when they do eventually find him, he’s in the company of another woman who claims to be his mother. Who is she really, and what connection does she have to Ethan and Libby?
What follows is a compulsively readable story that kept me guessing right up until the end. A few of the twists were pretty obvious, but there were enough surprises along the way to keep me thoroughly engaged. If you read a ton of thrillers, you’ll probably be able to figure a few things out, but I’m guessing the ending will shock you just as it did me.
I go into most thrillers expecting a certain amount of violence and gruesomeness, but Lost You is definitely on the tamer end of the spectrum on that score. There are a few mildly graphic scenes, but I’ve read books with many more. The author does a great job amping up the tension without resorting to unnecessary gore, and I appreciated that. It’s nice to know that explicit violence isn’t necessary in all thrillers.
Each and every character is vibrant and well-drawn. It’s so easy to imagine these people living next door or happening to take the same bus to work with you each morning. The villains aren’t stereotypically evil; in fact, I found myself feeling quite a bit of sympathy for one of them. Beck excels at writing difficult situations that require tough decisions from the characters, and I loved watching them try to work things out in the best possible ways.
Lost You is one of the best thrillers of the summer. It’s complex and twisty with a hook that’s sure to ensnare you, so make sure you have lots of free time before diving in.