Title: Isolated (The Missing Children Case Files #2)
Author: M.A. Hunter
Published on: 6th November 2020
Genre: Mystery and Thrillers
Isolated is the second book in The Missing Children Case Files by M.A. Hunter.
Emma Hunter, an investigative journalist who recently gained fame after her expose` on abuse at an orphanage, is back! Fifteen years ago, in the military base at Dorset, four teenaged girls ventured into the forest to play a game of truth or dare. The game ended when one of the girls went missing. Fast forward to the present, Natalie still cannot come to terms with the events that scarred her life. She decides to end her life by jumping off a building – the same building where Emma Hunter is currently meeting her Lit Agent.
Before jumping off the roof, Natalie asks Emma to find Sally, the girl who went missing from the Dorset forest. Curiosity takes the better of her and Emma is presented with yet another cold case. Emma teams up with her best friend Rachel and discovers on that fateful night, the girls went into the woods for more than a game of truth or dare. Wiccans, incense sticks and pig’s head, will Emma come face-to-face with a supernatural power? Only time will tell…
Having read the first book in The Missing Children Case Files series – Ransomed – I cannot tell you how excited I was when I received a pre-approved link to the ARC from Claire Fenby of Harper Collins.
The story alternates between Now and Then. In the Now part, we have Emma meeting the family and friends of the victim, trying to understand what went wrong in the victim’s past. In the Then part, we see the victim, Natalie in this case, coming to terms with Sally’s disappearance. Natalie is sure her two friends (the other two girls who joined Nat and Sally on that fateful night in the woods) are hiding something. Nat bears the brunt of this traumatic experience and her mental health deteriorates. The final straw is when Nat’s dad is killed at the front and Nat blames herself for it.
Years later, Nat is still under the impression she messed it up and got Sally killed. Nat decides to end her life, hoping this act would bring back Sally. Emma witnesses Nat jumping off the roof. Emma does a bit of research on Nat’s past and comes across the news report from fifteen years ago – the one which mentioned Sally’s disappearance.
Apart from solving cold cases – Emma is really good at it – we also get to see the personal side of Emma. Jack, the handsome cold case expert/cop she met on her previous adventure (Ransomed), digs for clues that might help find Emma’s missing sister Anna. We also see Rachel, Emma’s friend, going through a love-life crisis. Emma’s mother is in a care home and there are some shocking developments on this front.
The emphasis is not only on the cold case and this is what I like the best about The Missing Children Case Files series.
Coming back to the mystery aspect, the story started on an eerie note. The police discover a shrine of sorts in Nat’s hostel room. A bloody pig’s head nailed to the wall, red ink splattered on a map, I certainly had shivers down my spine while reading it.
However, I didn’t feel drawn to the story as much as I was when I read Ransomed. The wiccan angle to the story gave a mysterious touch to the story but in the second half, we learn this had nothing to do with Sally’s disappearance. The ending was a huge shocker. Not exactly the kind of ‘revelation’ I was hoping for. The identity of the perp was guessable. I suppose the unexpected ending is what made me give this book 4 stars and not 5.
Also, a small ‘quirk’ I noticed – which probably wasn’t present in the first book – over usage of the word ‘That’. As in, “Let’s go talk to that Colonel <insert name here>”, “That Sally disappeared fifteen years ago”, etc. A small tick, I agree, but noticeable. I hope this is corrected before the final editing. Anyhow, this niggle did not affect the rating.
Overall, Isolated was a wonderful addition to the series. Emma is likable and I am really impressed with the way the series is proceeding. With each case, Emma finds herself a little closer to finding her missing sister. I am eagerly waiting for the next book.
Many thanks to One More Chapter/Harper Collins UK and NetGalley for the ARC. This is my honest and unbiased opinion.