Vanishing Girls by Katia Lief is the third psychological suspense novel featuring cop-turned-P.I. Karin Schaeffer (available June 26, 2012).
There’s a killer on the loose, and now he’s hit Brooklyn. A young girl has been hit by a car and a prostitute is dead at the same crime scene. Karin Schaeffer is an ex-cop and soldier, and her worry for a cop friend’s PTSD has her accompanying him to more than one crime scene. Still haunted by the death of her first husband and young daughter, as well as a recent miscarriage, the sight of the young girl, a victim of a hit and run, especially tugs at her heart.
I moved closer to the stretcher and in a dull spray of headlight from one of the cop cars, saw her face: small, with creamy darkish skin as if she’d just returned from an island vacation, and silky hair the color of burned wheat, a long strand of which spilled over the side of the stretcher. She wore small gold star earrings and her fingernails were painted blue, with the perfect sheen of a fresh manicure. Her feet were bare; each toenail was painted a different color.
Karin speculates to her friend that the girl might be a runaway, but the evidence says otherwise.
If she had been an older teenager, it would have been anyone’s guess. And if she had been black, there might even have been an insinuation floating in the air that she was out working the streets, despite her tender age. But that fresh blue manicure, and that whimsical pedicure, seemed to tell another story. She was wearing pink flannel pajama bottoms prancing with white sheep. I turned away and closed my eyes.
Events continue to escalate, even as life goes on for Karin and her family, and she finds herself drawn into a vortex of violence that seems to be hitting closer to home every day. No stranger to loss, Karin finds herself drawing parallels between her past and present, and constantly trying to find a happy medium with her husband, who is also still struggling with the loss of their child.
Mac was a tough cookie, even-keeled in the best and worst of times. I was tough in a different way: I had been called reckless, even ruthless, and my stubbornness was a matter of record. I knew that I followed my gut instinct in a way most people wouldn’t dare, and that Mac both admired and distrusted me for it. I didn’t know what he was thinking; but something shifted in that moment, and I felt (hoped) I might have finally won his heart on the matter of lost little girls.
Karin begins to involve herself more and more with the crimes, and as she follows the twisted trail of a ruthless killer, she realizes that there’s much more to this story than meets the eye. Vanishing Girls is about murder, but mainly, it’s the story of a haunted woman determined to get to the heart of secrets of a most heinous sort. Three books into the series featuring Karin Schaeffer, author Katia Lief is still exploring the life of a woman shattered by death and still coming to grips with her pain, while providing her readers with cases that are never quite what they seem. Readers of thoughtful mystery will surely enjoy this series.