Monday, October 11, 2010

Pretty Little Things by Jilliane Hoffman

Book Details
Pretty Little Things by Jilliane Hoffman
Hardcover, 368 Pages
2010, Vanguard Press
ISBN: 1593156073

Thirteen-year-old Lainey Emerson is the middle child in a home police are already familiar with: her mother works too much and her stepfather favors his own blood over another man’s problems—namely Lainey and her wild older sister, Liza. So when Lainey does not come home from a Friday night out with her friends, it is dismissed by the Coral Springs P.D. as just another disillusioned South Florida teen running away from suburban drama and an unhappy home life.

But FDLE Special Agent Bobby Dees, who has headed up the Department’s difficult Crimes Against Children (CAC) Squad in Miami for more than a decade, 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. Haunted by the still-unsolved disappearance of his own daughter, Bobby recognizes the all too familiar up-swell inside him, the gut feeling that Lainey Emerson is no runaway. A search of her computer and a talk with her best friend reveal Lainey was involved in a secret internet relationship, spawned over a chat room, and nurtured through untraceable instant messages. Bobby fears she may be the victim of an online predator, and when chilling hand-painted portraits of other possible victims are mailed to a local television station, he realizes 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 is Bobby Dees he wants watching. Can Bobby win this deadly game of cat and mouse, one involving the most prolific killer he has ever encountered? And will he be able to save Lainey and the others before it is too late?

Pretty Little Things is a horrifically scary book for any parent of girls. The use of the internet (Myspace in this instance) to lure young teens into meeting. Abducting them. Holding them hostage. Killing them in brutal ways. All while the parents believe the kids have run away. We hear about stuff like this happening on the news. To someone else. It's every parents fear, but still most of us never consider it could happen to our family. Pretty Little Things gets to the heart of the matter, how easily it can happen to any family, and that's what truly makes it frightening.

Bobby Dees is a special agent that deals specifically with missing children. He has a personal stake in the finding of these kids and his work and family life has become unavoidable and unfortunately tangled. He leads the investigation in this thrilling mystery, the search to find 13 year old Lainey Emerson. We follow Lainey's imprisonment as well as Dees investigation, both terrible in their own ways. Dees search touches on things we've learned from Dateline's "To Catch a Predator" and goes miles further. Lainey's situation is awful, yet not written in a offensive or gruesome manner. The actual murders are not described, but the reader may cringe at the condition of the bodies once found.

Pretty Little Things has a great, surprising yet satisfying, resolution. It's a fantastic mystery. But beyond that, the book is frightening in its reality. Jilliane Hoffman scared the hell out of me, and that's no easy feat.


Jilliane Hoffman's

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