Published: March 13, 2007
Thirty years ago two sisters disappeared from a shopping mall. Their bodies were never found and those familiar with the case have always been tortured by these questions: How do you kidnap two girls? Who—or what—could have lured the two sisters away from a busy mall on a Saturday afternoon without leaving behind a single clue or witness?
Now a clearly disoriented woman involved in a rush-hour hit-and-run claims to be the younger of the long-gone Bethany sisters. But her involuntary admission and subsequent attempt to stonewall investigators only deepens the mystery. Where has she been? Why has she waited so long to come forward? Could her abductor truly be a beloved Baltimore cop? There isn’t a shred of evidence to support her story, and every lead she gives the police seems to be another dead end—a dying, incoherent man, a razed house, a missing grave, and a family that disintegrated long ago, torn apart not only by the crime but by the fissures the tragedy revealed in what appeared to be the perfect household.
In a story that moves back and forth across the decades, there is only one person who dares to be skeptical of a woman who wants to claim the identity of one Bethany sister without revealing the fate of the other. Will he be able to discover the truth?
“A hit-and-run on the Beltway forces the Baltimore County police to reopen a thirty year old kidnapping.
No one thought trust-fund brat Chet Willoughby would make a good cop, but in the twenty years before he retired to care for his ailing wife, Evelyn, he cleared every case but one. Willoughby never learned why or how someone abducted Sunny Bethany, fifteen, and her sister Heather, twelve, from the Security Square Mall, despite his dogged legwork and a burgeoning friendship with the parents: countercultural Dave, whose craft shop struggled until the unwanted publicity brought an embarrassment of customers, and his beguiling wife, Miriam, an Ottawa transplant whose alibi was an illicit liaison with her boss. Now a middle-aged hit-and-run driver is claiming to be Heather. Detective Kevin Infante has to evaluate that claim while dealing with ball-busting attorney Gloria Bustamante, the increasing reticence of her client and the demons of his own failed marriages. Social-worker Kay Sullivan gives the alleged victim the benefit of the doubt, but Kevin remains skeptical, even when his former partner Nancy Porter finds what could be corroboration in her cold-case files. The key to the case lies in the tortured memory of the victim, if she can just be persuaded to unlock it.
Lippman crafts a tale that resonates long after the last page is turned.” Kirkus Review