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Lost by S.J. Bolton

Long (long) time regular readers of this blog know by now that I'm a fan of S.J. Bolton.  I've read and reviewed all of her (now) six books on the blog.  You can go here, here, here, here and here to read those other reviews.  If you haven't already read any of her books, well, I highly recommend that you do.  A good one to start with is her first, Sacrifice.  You will be suspicious of authority figures in all the books you read after that one.  Looking back over my other Bolton reviews, I see that I've said in nearly all of them that this is her most twisted and darkest yet.  And at the time it's true--until the next one comes out.  Lost is S.J. Bolton's sixth book overall and the third in the Lacey Flint series.

Lacey is still reeling from the terrifying ordeal she was forced to survive when the undercover sting she was part of in the last installment pretty much went off the rails in a blaze of twisted, blackest glory.  She's cut herself off from DI Mark Joesbury, and she's busy snowing her work appointed psychiatrist into believing she's no longer fit for police work.  Lacey's a woman drowning in her own demons, a woman determined never to let her mask slip to reveal her true self (all of which is incidentally residual side effects left over from the aftermath of the murder cases from both of the previous installments).  It's taking its toll on Lacey because if she can't be a cop, then what else is left for her to do?

I'm just going to say it, okay: Lacey is dysfunctional with a capital 'D,' and she won't let anyone close enough to help her out of her drowning pit of demons.  And if I'm honest, Lacey's flaws and her demons and her determination to go it alone and her refusal to get help, well, it's starting to get old in this book.  If she's going to grow as a character, she has to at least realize she needs help and start making an effort to get better, and I don't want to spoil anything (SPOILER ALERT) but it seems that by the end of the book that Lacey is finally ready to get help in conquering at least some of her demons.  And this is a good thing and I'm really looking forward to where Lacey will be in the healing process in the next installment.

Boys ages eight to ten years old are disappearing from south London and then turning up dumped along the river, lovingly posed and drained of blood.  The dump sites are strikingly devoid of clues and other forensic evidence that would lead to either the original crime scene or to a viable suspect.  The case has London on edge--parents and children both, among them Lacey's young neighbor, Barney Roberts.  Barney and his small gang of friends undertake a mini tour of the dump sites of the boys' corpses, hoping to divine a pattern or a trail that might lead them to the murderer.  The case is also getting under DI Dana Tulloch's skin as she leads her Major Incidents Team in solving what she calls a 'very odd' case that yields few clues.

Barney's gifted in finding things--anything lost he can find by divining the patterns around it that only he can see.  Unfortunately, the more Barney digs, the more clues he uncovers that implicate the person he loves most in the world.  Barney's neighbor, Lacey, knows something's up with this kid.  However, Barney refuses to confide in her and is determined to shut her out either while he figures out what exactly is going on or while he protects the person he's come to believe is the one abducting boys off the streets of London and dumping their bloodless corpses along the river.

Bolton takes the reader down a twisty, turny road fraught with more than a few possible suspects; this crime thriller is easily Bolton's most terrifying and twisted yet--and when the killer is finally revealed you'll agree too.  I highly recommend you check out this book the next time you visit the library.

--Reviewed by Ms. Angie

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