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Dear Amy by Helen Callaghan

July 1, 2016

In her guise as ‘Dear Amy’, agony aunt for a local newspaper, Margot Lewis has dealt with all sorts of letters – but never one like this…

Dear Amy,

I’ve been kidnapped by a strange man.
I don’t know where I am.

Please help me,
Bethan Avery

This must be a cruel hoax. Because Bethan Avery has been missing for nearly two decades.

But as the present-day search intensifies for another missing schoolgirl, Margot is unnerved enough to take the letter to the police, hoping they will dismiss it as a sick joke.

Instead, they let Margot in on a little secret. One that confirms her darkest fears and tangles her up in the search for the sender, which could save one young girl’s life and cost Margot her own…

Dear Amy is the story of Margot Lewis, a Cambridge teacher just out of a troubled marriage. She teaches classics (do they still do that?) and also doubles as agony aunt for her local newspaper.

One of her pupils, Katie Brown, has recently disappeared, presumed to be a runaway. Then a letter arrives at the paper which claims to be from another missing girl, Bethan Avery – who disappeared twenty years ago and whose disappearance the police are no longer investigating.

Margot is troubled by the letter, which is soon followed by a second and takes these to the police. Though they are not really interested, she is contacted by Martin Forrester, an academic who sometimes works with the police and analyses historical crime data. He thinks there may be something to investigate in these letters.

This is a curate’s egg book, interesting in its premise but with a strange mix of ideas. I thought the relationship between Megan and Forrester jarred early on – she is pretty much immediately attracted to him and the book veers into the realm of romantic fiction, which just didn’t work for me. It’s certainly eminently readable and superficially enjoyable but there are moments in the plot when I thought that the actions just didn’t make sense and while they were undoubtedly there to add tension, they left me feeling slightly incredulous about the plot overall.

The twist in the book is interesting but ultimately guessable. Overall, an interesting read, but a flawed book which left me feeling slightly disappointed.

Dear Amy was published by Penguin on 16 Jun. 2016

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