Margot Lewis is the agony aunt for The Cambridge Examiner. Her advice column, Dear Amy, gets all kinds of letters – but none like the one she’s just received:
I don’t know where I am. I’ve been kidnapped and am being held prisoner by a strange man. I’m afraid he’ll kill me.
Please help me soon,
Bethan Avery has been missing for years. This is surely some cruel hoax. But, as more letters arrive, they contain information that was never made public. How is this happening? Answering this question will cost Margot everything . . .
Dear Amy is a good debut psychological thriller.
It starts with the abduction of teenage schoolgirl Katie Browne who in a moment of anger had decided she was leaving home, had packed a bag, sneaked out of her house and had decided to go to her Dad’s (without telling anyone). It’s a foul, wet, windy night. A car pulls up beside her. The driver calls her name. She doesn’t know him. He offers her a lift. She declines but there is fear in her voice … Just as she’s decided to go back home and face the music she realises that someone is coming up behind her….
The story then switches to the voice of Margot Lewis, a teacher at St Hilda’s Academy who also happens to write the Dear Amy advice column in the Cambridge Examiner. Margot has no children of her own and her husband Eddie has left her for someone else.
Margot’s character seems quite proper and correct – kind of old fashioned and appears to be quite practical and very much in control. She had been Katie’s teacher at one time and was concerned about the missing girl.
Then a letter arrives at the newspaper from a Bethan Avery, who had been missing for almost 20 years, begging for help and saying she has been kidnapped and is held prisoner in a cellar. Was it a prank? Was it genuine? Was it connected to the disappearance of Katie Browne?
Margot tries to find out more about Bethan Avery and wants her to contact her again. Her search for information about Bethan becomes almost an obsession. She’s also annoyed that some people, including the Police, believe that Katie Browne has simply run away from home and Margot feels nobody is really trying to find her. Finally a criminologist called Martin Forrester contacts her regarding the letters from Bethan, telling her the Police provided her details.
As the story progresses we find out a little bit more about Margot via conversations with her soon to be ex-husband and her friend Lily who thinks Margot is taking on too much and will make herself ill.
There are some chilling moments too. A man in a car outside the school, gates, an encounter with a man in a carpark, someone watching and waiting in a car near Margot’s home, silent phone calls.
The tension builds and we see Margot starting to unravel, bit by bit, but still searching for answers in the Bethan Avery case and trying to link it to the disappearance of Katie Browne.
I quite liked the writing style and the various voices telling the story. The dialogue is generally good and although there are some wilder, slightly over the top scenarios that are just too far-fetched, overall I enjoyed this book.
[I received a review copy of Dear Amy via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review]