OMGoodness! This 55th addition to the series is just as fresh, thrilling, engrossing, and suspenseful as the first one. The characters are some of the most intriguing and interesting I’ve ever read and they grow personally and professionally with each new book. You also couldn’t ask for a better cast of supporting characters – from the hard-hitting reporter, Nadine Frist, to the ebullient singer, Mavis Freestone, to the cops in Eve’s squad at Cop Central, they are all outstanding. I really enjoyed this story because all of those supporting characters – and more – played key parts in solving the mystery and taking the bad guys down. I have read every book in the series – some of them several times – and there isn’t a clinker in the bunch!
The Pleasure Academy has been in the business of kidnapping young girls for many years. Once the girls are imprisoned within the academy, they are ‘trained’ to service the gentlemen who will eventually purchase them. There is no escape for the girls – no windows to climb out, no doors they can leave through. They either comply with the training or suffer very severe consequences. The Academy has survived all of these years because they are smart – very smart – with how they acquire the girls. They have tentacles all over the world and they never take from the same place – at least not close together. There is no single police force that has ever recognized the larger picture. Each force investigates its own kidnappings – with many thinking the girls have just run away. Then, the Academy makes a huge error. Two of the girls manage to figure a way to escape – one of them dies for it – and Lt. Eve Dallas catches her case.
From the beginning, things just don’t add up for Eve. This child had to have been well cared for, but she’s been missing for several months. Her hair is perfectly styled with expensive products – even her nails are perfectly manicured. But then, there is the sexy undergarments. Why would this young girl be wearing expensive silk underthings? When Eve identifies the girl as Mina Rose Cabot, a child missing from Devon, Pennsylvania – a child who was much loved – Eve knows she isn’t just looking for a murderer – she’s looking for a child abductor. There is a second set of bloodstains on Mina, and they belong to Dorian Gregg, a runaway from Freehold, New Jersey. Is Dorian lying dead somewhere and just hasn’t been found yet? Is she injured? Was she recaptured? Or, is she the one who took Mina’s life?
Eve, Roarke, Peabody, and the rest of the team put their laser focus on finding these child abductors and murderers only to learn that the operation is so much larger than they could ever have imagined. Eve and Roarke struggle with emotional issues as they work through the case – after all – what these children are going through is very similar to both of their backgrounds as children. That, of course, only makes them that much more determined to solve the case.
I cannot recommend this book highly enough. I believe it is one of my favorites of the series and I am quite sure it is one I’ll read again and again.
I voluntarily read and reviewed an Advanced Reader Copy (ARC) of this book. All thoughts and opinions are my own.