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VINE VOICEon 22 July 2011
I was enjoying this book to a moderate degree until I reached the end, at which point I felt that the author just did not know where to take the story and had therefore resorted to a weak and disappointing denouement, leaving so many things unresolved. The book is a reasonably good read, and the fact that I read it in about a day does demonstrate that it had the ability to pull the reader in and make them care what happened. Knowing this area of the Lake District probably helped to keep me involved and the descriptions here brought the setting to life very well.

It took me quite a while to warm to Jo, the main character, and it seemed that as soon as I had developed a good degree of empathy for her my legs were metaphorically kicked from under me by the unsatisfactory ending. I don't think this should deter anyone from reading the book but you will be wanting to write your own alternative ending I think!

Finally, as other reviewers have mentioned, this is a far cry from a psychological thriller so do not be misled by this categorisation.
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VINE VOICEon 15 July 2011
I thoroughly enjoyed this book. It's the sort of book that you want to read quickly so that you'll find out what happens but at the same time you want it to last as long as it can.

Jo has suffered every parent's nightmare. Her daughter was abducted at the age of 18 months and she has never got over it. Ten years on, she has remarried and is living in an idyllic setting in the Lake District with her husband Marcus and stepson Sean. Together with Marcus and another woman Melissa, Jo runs a successful tour business. Although her life is apparently back on track, Jo is unravelling and it is this process which Diane Janes takes us through so brilliantly.

At the beginning of the novel, Jo is just about holding herself together. But the arrival of a postcard with a picture of her toddler daughter and the words "I still have her" sets her spinning into a decline. She has received these postcards periodically but everyone around her has told her they're a hoax and the police have even suggested she might be sending them herself.

As her mental health declines we find out more about Jo's past. Gradually we are let into her past life until we too start to question her sanity. The action takes place over the course of a year and the descriptions of the weather and the landscape of the isolated countryside where she lives add greatly to the atmosphere of the novel. This is very much a psychological thriller and at times the tension builds unbearably. What part exactly does her past play and is Jo as much of a victim as she seems?

A good plot then but for me plot isn't the most important thing. Characterisation is much more important and the writer has done an excellent job of buiding well rounded and believable characters. This is true even of characters such as the tourists on one of the company's tours who help to bring Jo down and discredit her in her husband's eyes with their tedious, superficial complaints.

An excellent read. Highly recommended.
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on 24 July 2014
I felt as if I were ploughing through this at times. It starts well and there is a strong sense of place, but the characters are all irritating, especially the pompous husband and the stereotypically rude stepson. The heroine didn't attract any sympathy either, despite her very unfortunate losses. There were lots of sections where I skimmed through pages, for example, the boring details of tours . The worst thing about it is the ending. The writer seems to have created a denouement without any lead-up. Too convenient, too rushed and a poor payoff from several hours expectant reading. I don't mind inconclusive endings; when they are done with skill, there is at least a chance to go back through the book and look for hints. The clumsy use of neighbours' gossip to relay the ending made it even more annoying.
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on 27 February 2015
The story was about a toddler who went missing whilst on holiday with her parents. A number of years later Jo is remarried, has a stepson and is living in the lake district. Over the years she has intermittently received a postcard from an unknown person stating I still have her. Jo was portrayed in the book as an anxious, depressive person, as the story progressed she became more strange. Her husband Marcus was not supportive, he was more interested in the family business than his wife s emotional well being. I enjoyed the storyline, the characters were believable and I was drawn into the book. However the ending was very disappointing, it was almost as if the author lost interest. She could have ended the story in a much better way. I know Jo was not thinking rationally but I do think in the circumstances she would have involved her husband or the police.
If you want to read a good story then I would recommend this book. However the ending will frustrate and annoy you.
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VINE VOICETOP 1000 REVIEWERon 23 July 2011
Jo suffered every mother's nightmare, her year old daughter Lauren was abducted during a holiday in Devon, her empty pushchair found hanging, empty over a cliff edge but no sign of Lauren.

This book is set years later when Lauren would have been twelve, Jo has recovered enough to build a business with her second husband Marcus and lives in a remote hamlet in the Lake District. Jo receives a postcard with the message 'I still have her' printed on the back, slowly, with the police voicing their suspicion to Marcus that Jo is sending the messages to herself, everything begins to unravel. Marcus is watchful, Sean her stepson is afraid and Jo is paranoid about what the other villagers think of her. This books success hinges on the way Diane Janes builds the tension by alternately making Jo's reasoning seem entirely plausible and then switching to explain her actions from an alternate point of view. The atmosphere of a dank wet summer in the Lake District only serves to add to the misery that Jo experiences.

The ending wasn't as I expected at all. I don't want to spoil the story, but if you expect everything to be tied up neatly, that isn't the case. However there was enough explanation to leave me feeling satisfied.
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on 17 August 2011
I found this psychological thriller a pretty compulsive read and finished it within a day. Set in the Lake District the story centres on Jo who, about 10 years previously, had her baby daughter Lauren abducted. Since then she has remarried and moved on. She and her second husband run a successful theme holiday business. However periodically she receives postcards that convince her Lauren is still alive. These and an unsympathetic stepson, a former school mate with a grudge and suspicion that husband is having an affair combine to drive Jo to the edge of a nervous breakdown.

The Lake District setting is very well portrayed and the story moves at a fast pace with lots of twists and turns. I liked the character of Jo though at times had doubts about her sanity. However, I felt the flashbacks to her difficult childhood were confusing and didn't add much to the story and I found the ending very unsatisfactory and not very credible. Still all in all a good Kindle bargain and well worth a download.
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on 15 July 2014
Not sure why I bought this - I think it came up as recommended because I read everything on the Kindle. It was okay, and actually quite enjoyable throughout the middle part (with the protagonist slowly going a bit mad... or is she?). But the ending as everyone else has said is pretty poor. It's like she ran out of inspiration. Although maybe she was just being really clever... I suppose things don't always get resolved in real life. Makes for a bit of a pointless story though. I wouldn't bother unless it was cheap.
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on 24 July 2014
Creepy and increasingly compelling, this sad tale of a woman's pursuit for her missing child who was stolen outside a shop when a toddler. Jo has tried to get on with her life by marrying again and building up a tour business but someone else is always haunting her footsteps. Unfortunately her behaviour seems more and more neurotic to those around her and she feels even more isolated when winter comes and she starts to act on her suspicions.
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on 10 January 2018
kept you on the edge of your seat /chair/ bed
a very good physiological book that made you to start question what was real and what was not
have recommended to friends
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on 11 September 2012
I did enjoy this book. It was unusual and vey well written and held my interest the whole way through. I was a bit disappointed by the ending, but that's just me and others will probably have thought it was fine. The descriptions of the surroundings, the way the characters and their perspectives regarding each other evolve and the mystery behind the story are all beautifully handled. All in all, this is a haunting and gripping book.
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