The action starts on the very first page in “Every Missing Girl,” the second thriller in the “Kendall Beck” series by Leanne Kale Sparks. Main character Kendall Beck is an FBI agent in Colorado who works with missing children, tracking them down and trying to uncover child trafficking rings. It’s pretty horrifying work, and in this case, her good friend, detective Adam Taylor, has a personal reason for trying to solve a missing child case. His own niece, Frankie, has disappeared. Making it even more personal, the disappearance happened right after a kid’s hockey game that Frankie played in and they attended.
Interestingly, the novel doesn’t start with Beck investigating any specific missing children until there is a double homicide at a local convenience store. So there is an attempted robbery which results in a double murder, and a child that was there because the robber had brought her with him was found to be a missing child, and Beck starts to investigate what happened to her. She suspects that the child was kidnapped by a trafficking ring, and she’s trying to discover who is involved to stop more children from being harmed. We read about several children who are rescued before they can be sold, but in the back of Beck and Adam’s minds is the fact that Frankie is still missing.
Sparks keeps the suspense and tension high, measuring the time after the kidnapping in hours, minutes, and seconds, as we are often reminded that unless a child is found within a fairly short time, they are unlikely to be found alive. Adam is frantic with worry, and as Sparks clearly shows, it affects his ability to be professional and detached while participating in the investigation. We also see how even small inconsistencies in testimony draw the attention of those investigating the disappearances, and it helps us understand how any lies, even omissions, can be harmful to an investigation. Adam must deal with those in his own family being evasive which leads to wasting time investigating what might turn out to be something completely irrelevant.
There is a lot to keep track of, including the found children, the suspects, and the different directions in which the investigations are leading. I had to go back a few times to make sure I understood who each character being investigated was. Never explained was how the actual kidnapping of Frankie took place, which is a minor complaint. The dialogue and the way Sparks narrates from both Beck and Adam’s points of view allow us insight into their thoughts and feelings and really make us feel a part of the story. Because of the nonstop action, you’ll want to read it right through. Because of Sparks’ ability to make us connect with Frankie, from what we learn about her, we really care about her and are rooting for them to find her safely.
It’s not all tragedy, though. There is some humor interspersed with the darkness of the topic of child trafficking. You will learn more about it than you might have known, and you will understand why it’s so important that those in the travel industry, like flight attendants, learn about the signs and are able to identify possible children being trafficked. Thrilling and informative, with characters we like, all contribute to make this a series you will want to keep reading.
Please note: This review was first posted on Bookreporter.com.