Thirteen-year-old Lainey Emerson is the middle child in a home police are already familiar with: her mom works too much and her stepfather favors his own blood over another man's problems--namely Lainey and her wild older sister. When Lainey fails to come home from a night out with friends, her disappearance is dismissed by the Coral Springs PD as just another disillusioned South Florida teen running away from suburban drama and an unhappy home life.
But FDLE Special Agent Bobby Dees, who heads up the department's difficult Crimes Against Children Squad (CAC), is not quite so sure. Nicknamed "The Shepherd" by colleagues, he has an uncanny ability to find the missing and bring them back home--dead or alive. After a search of Lainey's computer and a frank talk with her best friend reveal the teen was involved in a secret internet relationship, Bobby suspects she may be the victim of an online predator. And when chilling evidence of other possible victims is sent to a local Miami television station, he fears she may not be the only one.
The faceless monster from cyberspace, who has gone to remarkable lengths to stay invisible, now seeks a captive audience. And it's Bobby Dees he wants watching. Haunted by the still-unsolved disappearance of his own teenage daughter, Bobby will find himself pulled into a deadly game of cat and mouse with the most prolific killer he's ever encountered. But will he be able to save Lainey and the others before it's too late?
Title: Pretty Little Things
Author: Jilliane Hoffman
Genre: Adult Fiction, Suspense, Thriller
Publisher: Vanguard Press
Publication Date: September 4, 2010
Source: Received from publicist. Many thanks goes to Anna from FSB Media for sending me this book for review. I received this book free of charge in exchange for an honest review.
My rating: 4.5/5
Pretty Little Things starts off innocently enough. Lainey is babysitting her younger brother, waiting for her mom to get home. She has been secretly talking to a guy online while her mom is at work, and she's falling hard for him. He's a jock from a local high school and she can't believe that he is interested in her. Little does she know though, that he is not who he appears to be, and when he suggests they meet up, things will never be the same again. FDLE Special Agent Bobby Dees is called in to sign off on her case and say that by all appearances it looks like she's run away. On closer inspection though, Bobby realizes that she may be a victim of an online predator. Even more harrowing, she may not be the only victim.
Pretty Little Things definitely is an eye-opener. It's an excellent novelization of a terrifying truth. You really don't know who you are inviting into your house through your computer. The premise is all too believeable and frighteningly realistic.
Lainey is every girl, well, she could be. She is insecure, trying to find her way, and just trying to survive a new high school away from all of her friends. I felt immediately drawn to her, and found myself hoping against hope that everything would turn out okay for her. She is the type of character that you can't help but want to take care of.
Bobby Dees is a credible character as well. He is weary. Being involved in the Crimes Against Children cases has left him worn out. Notwithstanding, his daughter being declared a runaway the year prior has also taken it's toll on him, and his marriage. He is an absolute diamond in the rough though, as he gives each case his all. I found myself admiring him, as it must be difficult to maintain that job as long as he has. The absolute dedication he gives to finding Lainey, and the other girls, is amazing. He won me over as well.
All in all, this is an astounding read. Thankfully, some of the imagery is left to the imagination, as otherwise it would be almost too grotesque a read. It was quite captivating, and is a real page-turner. I'd definitely recommend this book to those who enjoy thrillers, suspense, or psychological thrillers. It was written exceptionally well, and I can't wait to read more from Hoffman.