Publishing year: 2014
I thought that Alice would be the main character of this novel.
She is a big part of the plot, but she is not the main character, but her thirteen-year-old daughter, Jenna. This takes place in 2014, and ten years ago Alice disappeared. She and her husband Thomas ran an elephant sanctuary in New Hampshire, and one day one of the rangers was killed. That day Alice was found unconscious and taken to hospital. At some point, she recovered conciousness, and then that night she signed herself out of the hospital, and nobody has heard anything from her since.
Now Jenna is resolute to find her mother. She was three when Alice disappeared, and Jenna has conflicting thoughts. She is afraid that her mother left her and is living her life without a single thought to her, and she also fears Alice might be dead. Yet, she is convinced that her mother couldn’t leave her willingly, and somehow she was forced to leave. At present Jenna lives with her grandmother, who never talks about Alice as it is too painful for her. And her father has been locked in a mental institution since his wife disappeared.
Jenna contacts Serenity to find Alice, but the psychic refuses to help her because of her past and the case with the senator’s child. Since that day, Serenity seems to have lost her gift. Yet, after Jenna leaves, Serenity has a dream about a woman and an elephant. Jenna returns to retrieve her mother’s scarf which she forgot at Serenity’s, and when the older woman tells the girl about the dream, Jenna is convinced she can help her. They go to the former elephant sanctuary, and they find on top of a tree a wallet with Alice’s papers and credit cards. Jenna is convinced that the case could be opened and her mother found. I like Jenna and her passion and decisiveness. It is sad the way the ghost of her mother has hovered over her all these years; she feels abandoned and thinks that this is what she should expect. I think her grandmother is wrong not to want to talk about Alice. Jenna needs to know about her mother and has her present. I understand that for Jenna’s granny, talking about Alice must be painful, but she should understand that Jenna’s needs are greater.
After finding the wallet, Jenna intends she and Serenity go to the police, but Serenity draws the line there. Jenna goes to the police station to find the detective, but she is told he’s dead. Yet, on searching the net, she finds the name of the detective. I don’t understand why Jenna was told he was dead. The truth is that Virgil Stanhope has now a different name and is a private eye. He has become a drunkard, maybe that’s why Jenna was told he was dead because the police don’t want their reputation to be stained. Virgil is still obsessed with Alice’s case. From his recollections we learn more about the night Alice disappeared. The body of the carer, Nevvie, was found, and apparently, she had been trampled by an elephant. Yet, there was a vague evidence that her skull might have been hit before the elephant trampled over her. Thomas Metcalf didn’t know where his wife and daughter were, and it was Virgil that thanks to an elephant found Alice unconscious and took her to the hospital. There is a character, Gideon Cartwright, who told Virgil that Alice wasn’t happy in her marriage and wanted out. And then Thomas was more worried about some missing notes of his than about his wife going missing.
When Jenna contacts Virgil, he also refuses her, but when Jenna hands him the wallet, he starts to make his own deductions. He wonders whether Alice killed Nevvie for some reason as she might have been Gideon’s lover. He doesn’t say any of this to Jenna, but that’s his suspicion. And as this case has been his obsession for a long time, he finally accepts to help Jenna.
I have no idea what happened to Alice. The whole thing is quite messy. Why would she leave her daughter behind? And if she’s alive, why didn’t she ever contact Jenna? Was she afraid for her life and Jenna’s? I hope Alice is not dead or guilty of murder as Virgil believes. I hope Jenna can finally find her mother and have the explanation she so much longs for.