I made the mistake of starting After Anna at midnight and pulled an all-nighter. What a page-turner this story is! Julia, a soon to be divorced mother, arrives at five-year-old Anna's school for pickup. Stuck in a meeting, she is a half hour late and prepares herself for a dressing down by a teacher. What she is not expecting is news that Anna has gone missing. A frantic search yields no results.
Who is to blame? Julia, who not only stayed late, but also allowed her cell phone to die? The school, which had a policy of leaving none of its charges alone? All the blame is laid at the foot of the mother, especially by her estranged husband and his mother.
As time passes, the media become hyper and print stories about Julia that have little to no basis in fact. She quickly trends on Twitter as the most reviled woman in Britain. She is the new Myra Hindley, the UK's notorious child killer in the 1960s. I had little sympathy for Julia until the media blitz began. Her milquetoast husband and his battle-axe of a mother revel in the negative stories about Julia, which makes them beyond redemption in my mind.
Hope for a good outcome dwindles after seven days, when Anna wanders unharmed into a shop. She remembers nothing. Game on! Why would someone kidnap a child, hold her hostage for a week and release her unharmed?
Thus begins a series of twists and turns that last until the final page. I was sure about the identity of the kidnapper. Alex Lake could have increased the suspense by reducing what the kidnapper said when thinking out loud, but the perpetrator never revealed the method and the motive.
I thoroughly enjoyed this book and wish that professional critics would stop comparing every book in this genre to Gone Girl and Girl on a Train. Each book stands alone!