One Step Too Far by Lisa Gardner
|One Step Too Far by Lisa Gardner
|Reviewer: Sue Magee
|Summary: It's the second book in the Frankie Elkin series and it's a winner. Frankie leaves the streets and begins a search for missing people in the wilderness. I couldn't put it down.
|Date: January 2022
|External links: Author's website
It's five years since the stag weekend. Five of them had set out: Tim (the groom) and his four groomsmen, Scot, Miguel (who was usually called Miggy), Neil and Josh. The first night they had plenty of alcohol - too much really - and in the night Scot managed to wander off. The remaining four searched for him in vain and it was decided that Tim, who was experienced in survival techniques, would go for help. When help didn't come the remaining three finally made their way back to town. Scott followed soon after but there was no sign of Tim. Every year, Tim's father, Martin, and the four friends have been back to continue the search although they do now acknowledge that they're looking for 'remains' rather than for Tim.
The story brought Frankie Elkin to Ramsay. Frankie's an average, middle-aged white woman and for the last ten years she's been searching for missing people. Of the sixteen cases she's handled she's only brought one person back alive, but even a body gives those remaining some closure. She had to bully her way onto the search team - her lack of wilderness experience did not stand her in good stead but Josh was forced to drop out and Frankie took his place.
This year, it's an expanded team. The leader is Nemeth, a former Shoshone National Park ranger, although Martin O'Day has considerable input into where they're searching. Martin's determined to find some trace of Tim: his wife, Patrice, is dying of cancer and she wants to be buried next to her son. The other additions are Luciana and Daisy - Daisy's a cadaver dog and Luciana her handler. On a search like this she usually finds a body but it isn't always the one they're looking for. A lot of people - at least five in the last twenty years - go missing in wildernesses like the Popo Agie. It's west of Cheyenne and south of Jackson in Wyoming.
This book is absolutely terrifying and completely unputdownable. I read it in a little over twenty-four hours because I had to know what happened. The trek into the wilderness is physically gruelling. There's not just a sense that they're being watched but some of their precious food supplies are stolen, which threatens to cut short the planned week-long expedition. Someone, something, doesn't want them in the Popo Agie.
I first encountered Frankie Elkin in Before She Disappeared and I knew then that if I was ever missing, I'd want Frankie to be looking for me. She doesn't have what you might think of as specific skills but she doesn't let go, knows when she's being lied to and is more than happy to confront anyone and demand that they tell the truth, no matter what the personal cost. And, talking of cost, Frankie doesn't charge for her services: she lives hand-to-mouth, has very few possessions and has nowhere to call home.
I read on the edge of my seat. The wilderness is perfectly evoked: sometimes I was slightly shocked when I looked out of the window and realised that I was in the Yorkshire countryside. The characters are well-drawn: you understand them, even if you don't always like them. Perfect. I did work out who was responsible but it didn't in any way spoil my enjoyment of the book. Highly recommended.
I'd like to thank the publishers for letting Bookbag have a review copy.
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