What is this about?: In this, the third in the Crimson Lake series, Ted and Amanda are asked by the mother of a missing child to find her kid. The investigation bring them in direct conflict with the police, who still hate them, and resent them for their pasts, which hinders the investigation. At the same time, we learn more about Amanda, which is surprising and extremely entertaining. And the cherry on top? Ted’s daughter, Lillian, is coming to visit for the first time, which sets him on edge because how can he focus on her when another child is missing?
What else is this about?: Family; Ted is still rebuilding his, and is desperately afraid that every choice he makes will result in Lillian being taken away from him. Amanda is making a family of sorts of her own, finding a place and people with whom she may actually fit. But we also learn more about how astute she is, how much she understands people under the quirky and crazy personality of her. She may look like she’s one step away from being a Bond villain, but here’s the thing? If she were a villain, I’m not entirely sure anyone would be able to stop her.
Crimson Lake is where bad people come to disappear – and where eight-year-old boys vanish into thin air . . .
On the fifth floor of the White Caps Hotel, four young friends are left alone while their parents dine downstairs. But when Sara Farrow checks on the children at midnight, her son is missing. The boys swear they stayed in their room, and CCTV confirms Richie has not left the building. Despite a thorough search, no trace of the child is found.
Distrustful of the police, Sara turns to Crimson Lake’s unlikeliest private investigators: disgraced cop Ted Conkaffey and convicted killer Amanda Pharrell. This case just the sort of twisted puzzle that gets Amanda’s blood pumping.
For Ted, the case couldn’t have come at a worse time. Two years ago a false accusation robbed him of his career, his reputation and most importantly his family. But now Lillian, the daughter he barely knows, is coming to stay in his ramshackle cottage by the lake.
Ted must dredge up the area’s worst characters to find a missing boy. And the kind of danger he uncovers could well put his own child in deadly peril . . .
Gone by Midnight is the third in the Crimson Lake series, and it may be a cliche, but this series just keeps getting better.
So there’s a kid missing
A group of friends have come to a holiday in the area and brought along their kids as well. While the adults are downstairs at dinner, one of the boys goes missing and a search ensues. But the kid’s, Richie’s, mother asks for Ted and Amanda to work the case as well, which brings them into contact with the police, some of whom basically still hate them — but more on that later.
The case itself is complex because no one has seen anything, and the kids in the group are the only witnesses, and at eight years old are not reliable in the least. But as the case progresses, more suspects are revealed, and which left me suspecting one or the other must be the right bad guy.
However, the truth is infinitely more complex.
Allow me to introduce you to Amanda
There were times in this I actually forgot there was a case because Ted and Amanda were far more interesting, as were, well, their lives in general. I know it’s weird, but hear me out — one of the strengths of this series are these two, but given their situations (both accused of crimes, and now free), it’s how they live their lives with pasts like that that makes things far more interesting.
In the previous book, Redemption Point we learned a bit more about Amanda, through her relationship with a cop on the force during a case who eventually dies — Pip — and an investigation into the death of two kids in a bar. In Gone by Midnight, the consequences of that book come for Amanda because Pip’s former partner, Joanna, is obsessed with Amanda and her relationship with Pip to the point that she starts to interfere in Amanda’s life, to discredit her. Joanna manipulates her fellow officers and the law itself to get what she wants… and severely pisses Amanda off.
But this is where it gets interesting, because that brings out Amanda’s own cunning and manipulation, which left me for a new appreciation for the character. Other characters tend to assume with Amanda that what they see is what they get — that is she acts ‘crazy’ and turns up to investigate the case in a glitter top and shorts, that’s who she is. But she also survived prison for ten years, and no one does that without being able to hold their own. How to make the right kind of friends and the right kind of sense when it counts.
Ted is on edge to say the least because Lillian is coming to stay with him for the first time. Having his daughter back in his life is something he has wanted and worked towards for ages, and that it is finally happening makes him ecstatic and incredibly nervous too — especially when he and Amanda are called in on Richie’s case.
But, a kid is missing and no matter what the world thinks of him, he still kind of is a cop at heart. He is also in this case peacemaker between the town’s actual cops who seem to reserve just a little bit more hate for Amanda bc of her involvement with Pip’s death.
In addition to all of this happening, when one of his geese falls sick, he meets a vet — Laney — who doesn’t seem to know about his past — and who seems genuinely attracted to him as much as he is to her. This nervousness, this attractions let’s readers see a little bit of Ted before he was arrested and accused of the crime, but it’s a truth he will never be able to avoid.
Ted’s story is also a contrast to Richie’s, to his parents who are going through a divorce and all the pain and anger that comes with that. Family is what drives this story, in different forms and different ways.
In the end, Gone by Midnight interweaves strong characterisation with equally strong themes that drive this instalment.