Tuesday, March 27, 2007

Mystery Book Review: The Dollmaker by Amanda Stevens

Mysterious ReviewsMysterious Reviews, mysteries reviewed by the Hidden Staircase Mystery Books, has written our review of The Dollmaker by Amanda Stevens. For our blog readers, we are printing it first here in advance of its publication on our website.The Dollmaker by Amanda Stevens

The Dollmaker by Amanda Stevens

MIRA Books (Mass Market Paperback)
ISBN-10: 0-7783-2428-1 (0778324281)
ISBN-13: 978-0-7783-2428-7 (9780778324287)
Publication Date: March 2007
List Price: $6.99

Synopsis (from the publisher): In Terrebonne Parish, Louisiana, a terrible secret is about to be uncovered by a woman whose daughter vanished seven years ago without a trace ...

And now a new clue has surfaced ... a doll that is the spitting image of Claire Doucett's missing child, right down to the tiny birthmark on the girl's left arm. A chance sighting of the eerily lifelike doll in a French Quarter collectibles shop leaves Claire shaken to her core ... and more determined than ever to find out what happened to her beloved Ruby.

When the doll is snatched and the store's owner turns up dead, Claire knows the only person she can turn to is ex-husband Dave Creasy, a former cop who has spent the past seven years imprisoned by his own guilt and despair. He let Claire down once when she needed him the most. Can she make him believe the doll really exists? She'll have to if they're to survive an encounter with a brutal psychopath—the dollmaker—who stole their future to feed an obsession that will never die.

Review: From the genteel shops lining the French Quarter of New Orleans to the forbidden bayous in the surrounding parishes, The Dollmaker by Amanda Stevens is a terrifying thriller that works equally well as an investigative detective story.

A parents' worst nightmare: their child disappears, apparently the result of a kidnapping. The first 48 hours are critical: if the child isn't located within that time frame, the chances of their returning safely are remote. For Claire Doucett, it's been 7 years since her daughter Ruby was taken from her, yet she still believes she may be alive. Then, suddenly, Claire spies a most life-like doll in a store window, a doll that eerily resembles her daughter. Even the doll's dress matches what Ruby was wearing when she disappeared. In her haste to visit the store, Claire is involved in an accident that puts her in the hospital. But then the doll vanishes, the store owner found murdered. Convinced the doll is related in some way to Ruby's kidnapping, Claire turns to her ex-husband, a disgraced NOPD cop who was involved in the destruction of evidence in the case of a murdered stripper about the same time their daughter was taken.

The first half of The Dollmaker is absolutely electrifying, drawing the reader into Claire's torment as a mother who's lost her daughter but holds out hope that she may be recovered. The idea that someone has taken a little girl for the purposes of making a doll is unthinkable, yet Stevens' crisp writing makes it all too believable.

Then the plot shifts its focus to Claire's ex-husband, Dave. It's here that the detective story begins, and though the transition is rather abrupt, there is no loss of continuity. Dave is equally anguished by events surrounding his daughter's kidnapping and is unexpectedly presented with an opportunity to redeem himself for past indiscretions.

While the kidnapper's identity is not a surprise (his character's background is chronicled every few chapters), and the ending is a bit too theatrical, Stevens cleverly brings everything together in a satisfying conclusion to this riveting mystery.

Special thanks to Amanda Stevens for providing a copy of The Dollmaker for this review.

Review Copyright © 2007 Hidden Staircase Mystery Books

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