Monday, March 13, 2017

The Forgotten Girls

Title:  The Forgotten Girls
Author:  Owen Laukkanen
Publication Information:  G. P. Putnam's Sons. 2017. 368 pages.
ISBN:  0399174559 / 978-0399174551

Book Source:  I received this book through the Penguin First to Read program free of cost in exchange for an honest review.

Opening Sentence:  "You don't ever surf the trains on the High Line."

Favorite Quote:  "You're probably going to die, anyway. Do something useful with your life before you go."

The forgotten girls - runaways train hopping their way across the country - are the victims. The perpetrator a serial stalker and murderer. The setting is the cold winter near the Canadian border along the high line railway line. The FBI detectives assigned to the case are Kirk Stevens and Carla Windermere.

A man is found with gruesome pictures on his phone. A young woman is found murdered and left on the side of the railway tracks in the cold expanse of Idaho. So begins a modern day police procedural. The good guys chase the clues in the real world and the cyber world. What starts as an isolated murder case becomes a pattern of disappearances that sets off the hunt for a serial killer - "the ghost rider". The objective is to bring justice to the victims and to capture the killer before he claims another victim.

Detectives Kirk Stevens and Carla Windermere are partners; as such they bring a history to this book. Note that this is book six featuring Stevens and Windermere, but it stands alone and such "series" are likely to do. For the two, this is another case but one that involves young women at risk. It becomes personal.

Mila Scott, a friend to the latest victim Ash, becomes the face of all the victims. She is young and alone. She is fearless in her life but fearful of authority and society. Above all, she wants justice for her friend. She is the vigilante of the story and could possibly be the next victim. She also is the emotional anchor for the book. Ash is gone, but Mila can be saved. Or can she?

What is fascinating about this book is that in addition to the search for the killer, the book develops the world of the forgotten girls, the train hoppers, the runaways. "The rider jungle was a terrifying place. It was a society all its own, with rules, laws, and customs she could hardly imagine." This world exists on the fringes on society, and yet is a society in itself. There are the powerful and the protected. There are friendships. There are relationships. These "forgotten" of the mainstream world come together in their own community.

What is also intriguing is the dedication of the book. "To the memory of the missing and murdered women of Vancouver's Downtown Eastside. You are not forgotten." The reference is to the over 60 women who disappeared from this neighborhood in the 1980s and 1990s. In 2007, Robert Pickton was convicted of the murder of six women. He claimed to have killed forty nine. These are the "forgotten girls" the book vows to remember.

This book follows the police chase both from the perspective of the detectives, the girls, and the killer - "the ghost rider." These interludes from the killer's perspective along with the cold, solitary setting really help sets the eerie atmosphere of the book.

A fiction with a reminder that these things do also happen in real life.

Please share your thoughts and leave a comment. I would love to "talk" to you.

No comments:

Post a Comment