|The prologue sets the tone as the reader is permitted to view a murder that occurred thirty years earlier. A mother is rocking her young crying infant when she places a small pillow over his face suffocating him with the thought that he would bear no more pain.
The author moves to the present and to historic Chattanooga, Tennessee, to a crime scene where the body of the missing young dark haired girl has been found on the porch upright and in a rocking chair at Cracker Restaurant. What first appears to be a doll wrapped in a blue blanket and held in the child's lap turns out to be the skeletal remains of a small infant.
Special Agent J.D. Cass of the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation resides in the town and is called to the scene as an observer. The local police handle the case until a second young dark haired girl is missing, and since as she is the mayor's relative, the TBI is called in to assist. She is found murdered as well and left in a rocking chair with another blue blanket and skeletal remains of another infant.
J.D. goes back to the time of the prologue when an insane mother murdered her infant and each year for five years running six blond haired, blue eyed toddlers were kidnapped and never found. A hunch pays off as the DNA sample acquired from the remains of the first infant is found to match that of one of the kidnapped infants of long ago. Now J.D. has an avenue of pursuit. He does so while dealing with the open hostility of Zoe, the teenage daughter he never knew existed, who is living with him since the death of her mother.
Meanwhile Audrey Sherrod, a mental health therapist. becomes involved in several capacities. She is a grief counselor and consultant to the police department and early on meets Zoe and tries to ease the tension between her and J.D., although she finds J.D.'s parenting skills almost nonexistent. She is involved on another level as she still blames herself for leaving it to her brother Hart to check on their baby brother Blake the day he was kidnapped. She is still debilitated by the nightmares of that day and they increase in intensity since Blake was among those six toddlers not found.
With her usual skill, Beverly Barton handles several plot lines at once with well formed characters of all ages and an unusual sensitivity to dysfunctional families. Audrey's family had become the prototype of dysfunctionality, as her brother Hart continues throughout the story to be only one of her major problems.
Against their mutual better judgments Audrey and J.D. are attracted to each other and as the plot begins its twisting to its very surprising end, the sexual tension follows right in step. Barton has handled the many issues well with her usual crisp and often humorous dialogue availing herself of the ambiance of southern culture along the way.
If you are new to Beverly Barton you will have a wonderful surprise in finding a new author, and for her fans, another of her very skilled creations awaits.