Friday, January 25, 2013

Book Review: Finding Claire Fletcher

In the opening scene of Finding Claire Fletcher, the debut suspense novel by Lisa Regan, we meet Detective Connor Parks, who is turning to Scotch in a bar after having a particularly rough day on the job. As he tries to drown his sorrows, a woman strikes up a conversation, and Connor can't but help think that she is trying to pick him up. Small talk leads to the couple leaving the bar together, but the night they spend in Connor's home is tender, not sexual.

The next morning, the woman is gone, and all Connor has left is a trace of her perfume, her name, and an address. Claire Fletcher from Sacramento. Connor, newly divorced, has been out of the dating game for some time, but he has to see this woman again. A few days after meeting Claire, he knocks on the door of her home.

The woman who greets him is not Claire. When Connor states the purpose of his visit, the woman's face pales. It's not possible that he saw Claire in a bar a few days before, Connor is informed. Claire Fletcher disappeared ten years earlier. She has never been found.

This information sets Connor into motion, for he finds himself compelled to find the woman who attracted him so much that night. In parallel we learn how Claire, as a teenager, was abducted and spirited away from her family's home. What followed is a bit difficult to read, for Claire was cruelly tortured and raped, and forced to live her life under an assumed identity.

Readers will find it difficult to put down this book because the story is riveting and suspenseful. Readers will also ask a question, central to the plot. If Claire is capable of leaving her abductor long enough to make contact with someone like Connor in a bar, why doesn't she just escape?

To understand the answer to that question, we also hear Claire's voice. Claire is still too paralyzed by fear to flee her abductor and too ashamed to return to her family. Did Claire reach out to Connor when they met at the bar? Has she put his life in danger by doing so?

Finding out what happened to Claire Fletcher is only part of the story. There is no happy ending awaiting us, for Claire has been damaged in ten years of captivity. This internal damage seeks resolution, and not even Connor can stop Claire from seeking revenge.

Finding Claire Fletcher is Lisa Regan's first novel. It is masterfully written, with three parallel voices relating an interwoven story so powerful and fascinating that we are held captive until we reach its conclusion.

Lisa's second novel, Aberration, will be published in June by Sapphire Star Publishing. Lisa lives in Philadelphia with her husband and daughter.

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