(Reviewed by Chuck Barksdale JUL 1, 2007)
But the more Darby drank, the stronger and clearer that inner voice of hers grew, the one that told her, with some sense of authority, that she, Darby Alexandra McCormick, was destined for bigger things—maybe not the life of a movie star but something definitely better and a whole lot bigger than her mother’s Palmolive world of cleaning, cooking and cutting coupons. Sheila McCormick’s biggest thrill was the greedy hunt for bargains on the clearance racks.
“You hear that?” Stacey whispered.
Snap-snap-snap—the sound of dry twigs and branches being crunched by footsteps.
“It’s probably just a raccoon or something,” Darby whispered.
“Not the branches,” Stacey said. “The crying.”
Darby put her beer down and poked her head up over the slope. The sun had gone down a while ago; she saw nothing but the faint outline of tree trunks. The dry, snapping sound grew louder. Was someone really out there?
The snapping and cracking sounds stopped, and then they all heard the woman’s voice, faint but clear:
“Please let me go, I swear to God I won’t tell anyone what you did.”
The Missing, Chris Mooney’s fourth novel and first of a new series starring Darby McCormick, is a fast paced and terrific book that just can’t be put down. The book starts with a teenage Darby but mostly takes place with the adult Darby who is a crime scene investigator for the Boston, Massachusetts police department Crime Lab. Mooney has created both a book and main character in Darby McCormick that are both memorable and enjoyable.
In 1984, when Darby McCormick is a teenager drinking in the woods with her friends, she hears a woman begging for her life that scares Darby and her friends to run off, but not without accidentally leaving something behind for the woman’s killer. This ultimately leads the killer to Darby’s house where she manages to escape, but her friend Melanie is captured. The murderer, Victor Grady a serial killer who ends up killing himself, is found with the help of Evan Manning of the FBI. Melanie is never found.
In 2007, Darby is now a 37-year-old Boston Police crime scene investigator and she soon is involved with a case that brings back the bad memories of her earlier involvement with a serial killer. She’s asked to visit the scene of the apparent abduction of high school junior Carol Cranmore and murder of Carol’s boyfriend. While at the scene, Darby finds a strange, battered and sick woman hiding under the Cranmore’s porch. She has apparently escaped from the vehicle used by the person who abducted Carol, but because of her condition she is not very coherent. The Boston police ultimately determine through her fingerprints that she is Rachel Swanson, a twenty-nine-year-old woman who has been missing for over five years. Over time Rachel does provide cryptic, but ultimately useful information in tracking down information on other kidnap victims and the place where the women were kept.
As more information about the apparent serial abductions and possible murders continues, the FBI becomes involved in the case. Darby again meets Evan Manning, the person who helped find the serial killer in 1984 and who is still involved with similar cases with the FBI, although now as a division head. They now work together to find out more and hopefully rescue Carol Cranmore and others before more abductions and murders occur.
Chris Mooney does change the third person point of view throughout the book, although he primarily focuses on Darby McCormick. However, he does provide some interesting but primarily disturbing look into 48-year-old Daniel Boyle, one of the two men involved with kidnapping and murdering women and the person responsible for the kidnapping of Carol Cranmore. Providing this perspective along with those of a few other characters does give the reader more understanding of what is going on, although Mooney does keep some information to himself as he adds many unexpected twists and turns to a very thrilling and enjoyable book.
Many thrillers do not have the full characterization of the main characters that Mooney has included in Darby McCormick. This is not always easy to do in a book that is meant to be fast paced, but Mooney does it here. He certainly allows the reader to get to know Darby and to better understand the fear, confusion and drive created by the various complications she faces.
This is the first book I’ve read by Chris Mooney and I certainly will read more, especially future books featuring Darby McCormick. According to Chris Mooney’s website he has just finished The Secret Friend, where Darby gets to investigate a former FBI profiler who is now on the FBI Ten Most Wanted List.
- Amazon readers rating: from 10 reviews
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Bibliography: (with links to Amazon.com)
- The Missing (March 2007)
- The Secret Friend (2008 in UK)
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About the Author:
Chris Mooney was born and raised in Lynn, Massachusetts. He attended St. John's Preparatory High School in Danvers. At University of New Hampshire in Durham, he started out as a Computer Science major, flunked two classes and switched to English, mostly Creative Writing clasess, where he briefly met writer and professor Tom Williams. He applied to the UNH's Master of Arts program to study fiction but was denied after being told he wasn't good enough. So he enrolled in the master's program at Northeastern University to study technical writing.
He accepted a job in downtown Boston but also went back to work on a novel that he started in college. Finding the right agent and after much editing, the book was finally published as Deviant Ways.