Shyler O’Neil has lived for two years in the shadow of the death of her young son, Jesse. The circumstances surrounding his death are hazy, an accident or possible foul play?
Shyler has never recovered and lives in virtual isolation in a cabin off the beaten track. She only leaves her cabin, situated in the woods of northern Maine, to purchase supplies. With no money and no family to speak of Shyler has become adept at woodwork making sculptures that sell in the local general store, in return for these sales she purchases food.
She is careful to avoid children at all times as they send her into an anxious terror, but on one of her outings a young 10-year-old boy seeks refuge in her car, attempting to escape his pursuers. Zack remains hidden, but shortly after arrival at her cabin Shyler becomes aware of his presence.
Feeling the maternal urge that has been ripped from her being for the last two years she takes Zack in as her own, calling him Jesse, determined to protect him at all costs. Zack is in far greater trouble that she initially assumed, he is injured from a previous car accident he escaped and distraught over the loss of his two foster brothers, two young boys he feels responsible for. Despite his unease about being called Jesse, Zack feels comfort in the love of someone who appears to care for him, something that has been missing in his life for as long as he can remember.
With the help of local doctor Chase Hadley, who has become increasingly concerned about Shyler’s behaviour, Shyler and Zack flea into the woods with Zack’s pursuers hot on their heels.
As the story moves on the reader is never quite sure of the events surrounding Jesse’s death, was Shyler to blame, was it foul play or a terrible accident? If Shyler is the killer, Zack may very well have allied himself with the wrong person.
Debut novelist Diane Hester has written a fast paced thriller full of suspense as it twists and turns culminating in its final conclusion. Hester keeps the reader guessing right until the end. A terrific first novel from an author we will no doubt see more of.
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