8 November 2016

Review #549: The Lost Ones by Ben Cheetham

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

“Fifty percent of something is better than than one hundred percent of nothing.”

----Chuck Barris

Ben Cheetham, an award winning English author, pens a dark and an intriguing family thriller, The Lost Ones which centers around the mystery of a little missing girl right under the nose and eyes of her own mother near the forest which is and was popularly known for the cult who performed their rituals there located in a small town with some ugly secrets behind the unsolved murder case of a married couple, that has a strong similarity with the features of the little girl's disappearance.


Some secrets are better left undiscovered.

When a nine-year-old girl goes missing in Harwood Forest, the search for her brings back memories of an unsolved double murder some forty years earlier. Could the key to Erin Jackson’s disappearance lie in the bloody fate of Elijah and Joanna Ingham, bludgeoned to death while their young daughters slept? Were the Inghams really the victims of opportunistic burglars—or a more sinister fate?

The woods are combed for signs of the child, but Erin’s brother, Jake, mounts his own investigation, uncovering evidence that puts the Inghams’ daughters—vanished Rachel and ‘crazy’ Mary—in the frame. Meanwhile, Erin’s father suspects that the ragtag army of eco-warriors besieging his quarry development may have something to hide.

As devastating secrets and betrayals are revealed, the Jackson family is brought to a breaking point. But time is running out. Erin is still missing and Jake’s unorthodox inquiries have left him dangerously exposed. They must find Erin and lay the past to rest—before they become its latest victims.

Erin goes missing right from the watchful eyes of her mother in a very small English town and soon a search is launched to find the missing girl in the dark forest that have been an epicenter for cult practices since the beginning of time. Whereas Erin's father is pretty sure that his daughter's abduction is a ploy by the environment supporters to stop him and his team from developing the forest quarry. And Erin's elder brother, Jack, launches his own investigation and finding starking similarities and links with the town's forgotten twin murders that took place forty years ago of a married couple left slaughtered in their own house while their daughters slept away in the adjacent rooms. Jack finds clues to his sister's abduction and the twin murders but that throws him on the harm's way and within no time, he finds the diary of the murdered couple's missing daughter that says a lot about the night of that murder. Before Jack comes to a conclusion, he must be careful to uncover some of the ugly secrets of his sleepy town.

The book opens with an alluring epilogue about the abduction of the little girl and how her family is thrown on a downward spiral path to destruction. And the author has captured that trauma and the pressure of the kidnapping of the daughter among the mother and father and how their trust begins to fall apart, all these details have been strikingly portrayed into the story and the readers can actually feel the weight of this mystery burdening the souls of the couple. Also the story brings out the mentality of small town folks perfectly and flawlessly and i bet readers can easily contemplate with that part.

The author's writing style is fluent with an equally sharp prose, laced well with emotional turbulence thereby reflecting a realistic feel to this thriller. The pacing is really fast, although the fast pacing did not work out well with the story line, as the story will feel often rushed by the readers at some moments especially near the climax. The narrative is not that polished and often confusing yet the emotional depth is strong and that makes it quite interesting and captivating enough for the readers to stay glued to the book.

The mystery part comes undone in this book, even though this is a thriller book, yet it will feel more like reading a dark family drama. There are many layers to this tale yet the layers are not well concocted into the story line. Each and every twist is foreseeable hence the mystery loses it charm in that respect. But overall, the story line, the logic and the back story and everything else feels right and is in sync with the story's general flow.

The characters are one thing that made this novel even more compelling for the readers to keep turning the pages of this book till the very end. The author has painted the key characters with many hues of dark shades that makes them look flawed and psychologically challenged still extremely likable. The main character, Jack is very much well developed, through his teenage issues, his insecurities and his determination to find his missing sister. Jack's investigation will make the readers not only fall for this unusual teenage boy but will also make them stick to the edge of this story. The rest of the supporting characters are well crafted out and are portrayed with enough realism.

In a nutshell, this is an enjoyable and absorbing crime fiction that will provoke the thoughts of its readers.

Verdict: Definitely a promising part thriller and part family drama.

Courtesy: Thanks to the author, Ben Cheetham, for giving me an opportunity to read and review this book.

Author Info:
Ben Cheetham is an award-winning writer and Pushcart Prize nominee. His writing spans the genres, from horror and sci-fi to literary fiction, but he has a passion for dark, gritty crime fiction. His short stories have been published in Swill Magazine, The Fiction Desk, Deadcore (Comet Press), The London Magazine, The Willisden Herald New Short Stories 3, The Grist Anthology of New Writing, Dream Catcher, Staple, Fast Forward: A Collection of Flash Fiction, Voice From The Planet (Harvard Square Editions), The Momaya Annual Review, Transmission, The Chaffey Review, and numerous other magazines.
Ben lives in Sheffield, UK, where - when he's not chasing around after his two-year old son - he spends most of his time locked away in his study racking his brain for the next paragraph, the next sentence, the next word.
Visit him here

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