Little Girls Sleeping - Jennifer Chase
Reading Challenge Category: Free ARC from NetGalley
He looked down at the little girl, sleeping peacefully, her arms wrapped around a teddy bear. He knew he was the only one who could save her. He could let her sleep forever. An eight-year-old girl, Chelsea Compton, is missing in Pine Valley, California and for Detective Katie Scott it’s a cruel reminder of the friend who disappeared from summer camp twenty years ago. Unable to shake the memories, Katie vows she won’t rest until she discovers what happened to Chelsea. But as Katie starts to investigate, accompanied by her loyal ex-military dog, Cisco, the case reveals itself to be much bigger and more shocking than she feared. Hidden deep in the forest she unearths a makeshift cemetery: a row of graves, each with a brightly coloured teddy bear. Katie links the graves to a stack of missing-persons cases involving young girls—finding a pattern no one else has managed to see. Someone in Pine Valley has been taking the town’s daughters for years, and Katie is the only one who can stop them. And then another little girl goes missing, snatched from the park near her home. Katie’s still haunted by the friend she failed to protect, and she’ll do anything to stop the killer striking again—but can she find the little girl before it’s too late?
I’m afraid I only enjoyed the last half of this book. The first half was really slow and hard to get into. Nothing much seemed to be happening. Katie was a very morose character and hard to empathise with. I know she was probably suffering from PTSD, even though it’s not said, but it just made the book very hard to get to grips with as she just seemed to plod along, to begin with. There were extended scenes that don’t lead anywhere or really serve a purpose like when she is searching the three grids looking for Chelsea to no avail. It repeats and reiterates that she was in the army way too many times, yes we know that your training is coming in handy you don’t need to tell us for the millionth time! The scene-setting near the beginning was very obvious and somewhat clunky. She just happens to find a cold case file and decides to do some off-book investigating. It would have been nicer if it had developed more organically. She ruffled way too many feathers, and I think she would be better suited to being a private investigator rather than working for the police as she wanted to go it alone too much. The villainizing of Detective Templeton was crass and over the top. It all felt overdone and not realistic. I remember reading reviews for a book and someone saying about how silly it was that she almost gets run over and then goes for a picnic. I hadn’t remembered it was this book I’d seen that comment, but as soon as I read it, I totally agreed. It was as if she hadn’t almost been killed and just carried on life as usual. I suppose that was her ’training’ kicking in! The last half of the book really picks up; this is when the action and findings finally start to happen. It was this half that had me gripped, and I couldn’t put the book down as I knew we were going to find out who had been taking and killing the girls. I didn’t guess which was a good thing, which means the author did keep the suspense and everything close to her chest. Overall, it was just an ok read; I’m not sure I’ll be hunting any of the author’s previous work down.