The Lost Ones by Ben Cheetham

Setting: Harwood Forest, England
Genre: Mystery/Suspense
Publisher: Thomas & Mercer
Release Date: October 25, 2016

Nine-year-old Erin Jackson vanishes while out walking the trails in Harwood Forest. There's no trace of the young girl, except for a bloody rock that may or may not be related to the case. For her parents, it's the worst possible nightmare. Erin's father is in the middle of a project that environmentalists protest, so they may have taken the girl to stop the development. There's also the chance that the girl fell, hit her head, and is simply lost in the expansive wooded area.

Erin's older brother has his own thoughts. Decades ago, the Inghams were found slaughtered in their home. Only their daughters survived. Jake's convinced the past murders are related to his sister's disappearance, and he sets out to uncover the truth.

The Lost Ones had the potential to be a gripping mystery. I ended up having mixed feelings. First, I wondered how on earth a teenage boy was able to find significant clues that police for decades missed. That seemed a little unusual to me. I also had a hard time believing that after sneaking out once, then twice, that his parents were still not watching his every move. As a parent, it would take just once and then I'd be insisting my teen stay in the same room as me and not get time alone.

The final outcome also bugged me, but I won't go into that as I don't want to reveal any spoilers. It did take me by surprise a bit, in regards to one big revelation. I really didn't like how that part played out.

Overall, the setting was well portrayed and drew me in, but I never really liked the characters enough to have this become a favorite story. It was okay, but some parts were predictable, some just seemed too much of a stretch, and that made it a little hard for me to take.


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