Title: Boy, 9, Missing by Nic Joseph
Publisher: Sourcebooks Landmark
Genre: Contemporary, Mystery
Length: 336 pages
Book Rating: B
Complimentary Review Copy Provided by Publisher Through NetGalley
In the tradition of Defending Jacob or Drowning Ruth, this is a suspenseful debut that explores the ramifications of revenge, justice, and the aftermath of a terrible night in the lives of two families.
It should have been just a quiet evening with friends. But Francis lost his brother that night in what was ruled a tragic accident. He’s tried to move on in the last twenty-three years, even though his father certainly hasn’t. Indeed, his father still blames the lone witness, Sam, the nine-year-old son of friends. Perhaps if Sam would have just said something, anything, about what happened that night, but Sam still seems unable-or unwilling-to utter a word about the accident.
And now, twenty-three years later, Sam’s own nine-year-old son has disappeared.
Touching on a parents’ worst nightmares, Boy, 9, Missing is an intriguing debut mystery by Nic Joseph.
In 1992, ten year old Lucas Scroll mysteriously drowns in his parents’ bathtub during a dinner party. The only possible witness, Sam Farr, refuses to talk about what happened.Twenty-three years later, Sam’s nine year old son, Matthew, is missing and the prime suspect in the case is Lucas’s father, Alex. Desperate for answers, the Farrs hope Alex’s oldest son, Francis, can help them locate their missing child. After his family fell apart following his brother’s death, Francis changed his last name to Clarke in order to escape notoriety and he eventually became estranged from both his parents. However, despite this lack of contact with his dad, Francis is not convinced he has anything to do with Matthew’s disappearance so he begins his own investigation into the suspected kidnapping.
In the years following his brother’s death, Francis watched his parents do everything in their power to bring Sam to justice, but he was ultimately found not guilty of murdering Lucas. After years of living away from his small hometown, he has recently returned following his divorce. With his daughter Amy en route to live with him, Francis is soon consumed with tracking down his father. Having kept his family’s tragic past hidden, he knows he will have to tell Amy the truth sooner rather than later. However, Francis leaves her to settle in on her own as he follows the leads he uncovers.
Francis has little luck locating Alex but he has plenty to keep him occupied as he learns troubling information at Matthew’s school. There is an ugly rumor that the school’s principal might be involved with inappropriate relationships with her students, but does this have anything to do with Matthew’s disappearance? As he is digging around in his father’s life, Francis discovers Alex has not given up on trying to force Sam to tell him what happened the night Lucas died but would he kidnap his son in order to leverage him into talking? The more Francis pokes around in the events surrounding his brother’s death, the more secrets and lies he unearths but will these discoveries help him find Matthew?
Although a little slow paced in the beginning, Boy, 9, Missing does eventually pick up steam as Francis frantically searches for his father and the truth about what happened to Matthew. With well-placed red herrings and stunning plot twists, Nic Joseph keeps readers guessing whodunit and why right up until the novel’s dramatic and action-packed conclusion. A well-written mystery with a unique storyline, this debut mystery is sure to be a hit with fans of the genre.