Harper Collins Canada releases Island of Lost Girls by Jennifer McMahon April 22. This is McMahon's second novel, but the first I've read. And what a good read it was.
Rhonda Farr pulls into her local Mini Mart for gas before a job interview. She is struck speechless by the sight of a giant bunny rabbit coaxing a young girl out of her car and into the rabbit's car. It happens in the blink of an eye and as they drive away, Rhonda realizes that she has just witnessed an abduction and is horrified that she did nothing to stop it.
The little town is galvanized into action. A small command post is set up by Pat, the owner of the Mini Mart. We get to know Rhonda and her childhood friends, Lizzy and Peter. Their families were inseparable as children. The present day story is just as much about the hunt for missing Ernestine as it is about the relationships and lives of the now grown children.
The story flips from present to past, about 15 years ago. The childhood days of Lizzy, Peter and Rhonda are exposed in alternate chapters. Although their childhood appeared idyllic, there were unsettling undercurrents.
Most chilling are the brief, disturbing thoughts from the rabbit.
Suspicion seems to fall upon Peter and Rhonda is determined to find the real culprit as she believes it cannot be Peter. The more she digs, the more the past seems to be catching up with her.
McMahon's characters are well written and real, crackling with believable emotion. The reference to rabbits could have gone overboard, but doesn't. McMahon handles the flashback stories well, capturing the feelings and sentiments of children.
Island of Lost Girls is a tense thriller, but also a fascinating look at how the past affects the present. McMahon's mystery is straight from today's headlines.