On a hot summer’s day in 1996, Claire’s younger sister Eleanor - a particularly vulnerable thirteen-year-old, very young for her age - disappears without trace after going alone to get an ice cream. Twenty years later there is still no clue as to what happened to Lenni - her family have never quite given up hope, but she is widely assumed to be dead.
Claire is now married - to surgeon Callum - and still lives close to her parents’ farm, but father Patrick is now descending into dementia. In hopes of helping his cognitive state Claire decides to organise a reunion of their childhood friends, to whom Patrick was like a second father. Claire’s brother Jason; his heavily pregnant wife Greta; and old friends Maggie (complete with troubled teenage daughter Rain) and Nick all gather once more at the farm. But right from the start, the reunion doesn’t go at all according to plan. And someone knows more than they are telling about Lenni’s fate.
The main narrative is interspersed with non-chronological snippets from Lenni’s viewpoint. It’s apparent that she has been held captive, but the who, why, and indeed where remain elusive, and poor Lenni’s confused perceptions shed little light.
(I did develop an inkling of who might be responsible - though with no idea of whether I was right and, if so, why and how.)
The Reunion is a top notch psychological thriller - intriguing, compelling and at times heartbreaking. Particularly near the end there are some very emotional moments which are well handled by the author.
If I have any criticism to make it’s perhaps a certain unwillingness to go to the police when it would seem to be the obvious course of action. But that’s a very minor point (and hardly unusual in the genre!).
The characterisation is really well done -the portrayal of Lenni is particularly memorable. One character proves to be truly awful. But it’s not till the end that their full heinousness is revealed.
Ultimately there’s a sense that (some kind of) justice has been or will be done, though it’s hard to imagine how the characters will cope with everything that has happened.
An excellent read which I couldn’t wait to get back to every time I put it down. Thanks to Bookouture and NetGalley for the opportunity to read and review!