Stolen in the Night
Atria, Sep 2007, $24.95
The DeGraff family always went on a summer vacation camping in a small New Hampshire town until tragedy struck. One night when Tess was nine and Phoebe thirteen, a man cut a hole in their tent and abducted the teen. Phoebe was found two days later dead, having been raped before he killed her. When Tess describes the invader to the sheriff, they arrest well known sexual pervert Lazarus Abbott. He was convicted solely on Tess’ testimony; when his appeals ended, the state executed him.
Lazarus’ mother never believed her son kidnapped, raped and killed Phoebe. Twenty years of trying to prove he did not commit any of those horrific crimes leads her to attorney Ben Ramsey who persuades Governor Putnam to approve DNA testing. The test proves conclusively that Lazarus at least did not rape Phoebe. The case is reopened with the townsfolk angry at Tess for sending an innocent person to the gallows. However, she realizes if Lazarus was not the killer, a clever murderer still lives free. When her son Erny is abducted she fears history will repeat itself.
Patricia MacDonald affirms once again she is one of the grandmasters of psychological suspense with this strong thriller that fans of Mary Higgins Clark and Sandra Brown will relish. The protagonist is a strong person who feels guilt that her testimony led to an apparent wrongful state execution yet has a burning need deep in her gut to uncover the identity of her sister’s killer. Tess is ignorant that this sheep in wolf’s clothing watches her every move as he hides in plain sight inside the cloak of nicety.