Thanks to NetGalley and Kensington for providing an e-ARC in exchange for an honest review.
Synopsis: At DeRose & Associates Private Investigators in Virginia, Angie DeRose strives to find and rescue endangered runaways–work that stands in stark contrast to her own safe, idyllic childhood. But in the wake of her mother’s sudden death, Angie makes a life-altering discovery. Hidden among mementos in her parents’ attic is a photograph of a little girl, with a code and the hand-written message on the back: “May God forgive me.”
Angie has no idea what it means or how to explain other questionable items among her mother’s possessions. Her father claims to know nothing. Could Angie have a sister or other relative she was never told about? Bryce Taggart, the US Marshal working with her agency, agrees to help Angie learn the fate of the girl in the photograph. But the lies she and Bryce unearth will bring her past and present together with terrifying force. And everything she cherishes will be threatened by the repercussions of one long-ago choice–and an enemy who will kill to keep a secret hidden forever.
Release Date: 5/31/16
While I don’t think Forgive Me is one of Daniel Palmer’s best novels to date, it’s still a good example of what makes this prolific author so popular. There are two plots unfolding in this novel, and I think that’s where I ran into trouble. There’s the heart-breaking story of sixteen-year-old Natalie, who runs away from home only to fall into the hands of a sex-trafficking ring. Her story is difficult to read at times, but it’s extremely compelling. As usual the author has thoroughly researched his subject and he pulls no punches. There are some scenes that will make you cringe, especially since you know similar scenes, or worse, are played out every day all over the world. There’s also Angie DeRose, who’s been hired by Natalie’s parents to find their daughter. Her story takes a backseat until about 3/4 of the way through when it becomes the central plot. It’s so sudden that I found myself wondering what had just happened. I’m going to go out on a limb here and say I think Palmer is setting the stage for a series (his first). At least I hope so because otherwise there’s a plot hole to end all plot holes, as well as some loose threads that were never tied up. One of Palmers biggest strengths lie in the compelling characters he creates, and Angie and Natalie are no exception. Natalie, the daughter of divorced parents, is a an intelligent girl who is vulnerable because of a neglectful father and alcoholic mother. You can’t help but become emotionally invested in her. The same goes for Angie, who discovers that her idyllic childhood with her parents was based on a heinous secret. The truth when it’s unveiled is an explosive bombshell and one I didn’t see coming. The secondary characters are engaging and well-defined and the interaction between them is perfectly written. In the end Forgive Me is a bit like reading two books in one, and I wish that Daniel Palmer had written the two as two separate novels. But overall, just like with his previous works, I still enjoyed it and have no problem recommending it to readers who like mysteries and thrillers.