23 August 2008

Review: LITTLE GIRL LOST, Susan Kelly

Allison & Busby, 2002, 279 pages, ISBN 0-74900-533-5

Do people in your library leave little marks on the back page of a book to let you know they've read it? They do in mine, and lots of people have handled this book. I wonder if they share my reading tastes?

This is #3 in the Greg Summers series and I'm a bit regretful that I didn't get hold of #2. I reviewed #1 THE LONE TRAVELLER last week.

I was a bit surprised that the theme of a missing child cropped up again - that was the focus of THE LONE TRAVELLER too. Emilia Troy is the missing child, and her father thinks that she has been taken by Joshua Salem, a social worker and a neighbour. Emilia is only three. The story of how her mother refused treatment for rampant cancer during her pregnancy, deciding against a termination too, and then died shortly after Emilia's birth, is well known. When her father, a clever scientist, had a nervous breakdown and was hospitalised, Emilia was fostered out for a couple of years. But then Roger Troy married a nurse and was declared competent to look after Emilia again. But his new wife Concepta does not seem fond of the child.

For some reason I found this book did not entirely grab my attention and was a bit difficult to get into. There are two major POVs (points-of-view): the continuing story of Detective Superintendent Greg Summers who shares his house and his life with his daughter-in-law Angela, and the new character Megan Davies. Megan is Greg's new Chief Inspector, but is a single mother, her status the result of a newly fractured marriage. She has returned to the district for family reasons: her father has progressive dementia, and yet at the same time she is hoping her mother will be able to help her care for her 9 year old son.
Perhaps part of my problem is that I haven't read #2 and perhaps if I had I would have known more about some of the new-to-me characters in this book.

Don't get me wrong though - there's a lot to like in the issues and scenarios that Susan Kelly is tackling. I like her approach too.
Sometimes we see things from Greg Summers' point of view. He is a compassionate leader, a thorough investigator, one who doesn't mind doing the grunt work too, although not really good at delegating and leaving alone. We see also his moral dilemma of his love for Angela, the young woman who was his dead son's wife. There's a nasty newspaper reporter who tries to use that as blackmail from time to time. He's the case of a character who was developed in THE LONE TRAVELLER, and just pops in here, with minimal back story, for a cameo appearance.
And then we also see Greg Summers from the POV of those he leads and manages, and the picture is quite different, flavoured by their emotions and in this case things that Megan Davies is just not coping with. That Greg Summers seems tough, uncaring, unsupportive and lacking in trust.

So yes, hopefully I will find #2 in the series and get to read it. Regretfully neither my library nor BookMooch have it. I think Susan Kelly is on a winner here.
My rating of LITTLE GIRL LOST: 4.2

1. The Lone Traveller (2000)
2. Killing the Fatted Calf (2001)
3. Little Girl Lost (2002)
4. In Cold Blood (2003)
5. Death of a Ghost (2004)
6. A Disguise for Death (2005)
7. Murder on the Dancefloor (2007)


David Cranmer said...

I love your observation on the little marks. I've long paid attention to folded pages and other signs of the previous reader.

Kerrie said...

Welcome David.
I think in my library they are often made by people who borrow books on behalf of others, so they know whether they've already read the. There such a variety: page numbers circled, typo corrections, little symbols. The library has even gone to the lengths of sticking an extra page in the back of the book with "Make Your Marks Here" on the top of it, but it doesn't seem to have the same attraction.


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