The Wrong Girl
By Hank Phillippi Ryan
A 2013 hard cover
release From Forge
If there ever was one, this novel sets permanently to rest any question about this author’s talent. She has here masterfully fashioned a complicated, multi-layered story centered on two important elements of our society. One is the fostering of children by state agencies. The other is the whole private adoption industry. Two separate but linked investigations are carefully intertwined to create the whole.
In Boston, the Brannign is considered the peak of the mountain, the most upscale, elegant, completely above-board well-respected private adoption agency. But now comes a friend of reporter Jane Ryland who is beginning to suspect something is amiss about her adoption through that agency thirty years earlier.
Meanwhile Ryland’s secret lover, ace Boston detective Jake Brogan, is tasked with finding the murderer of a young woman. Problem, in the deceased woman’s apartment are two small children and an empty cradle. The children are not hers and there is no identification to be found. The atmosphere in the apartment is odd. Brogan and his partner are stymied. Cell phones ring. Cell phones play a large part in this novel, including at least one that becomes a loose end. Jane gets a threatening cell phone call. Her editor calls. In fact, cell phone communication becomes a large distraction—almost too much. The other flaw is the author’s technique of ending almost every chapter, and there are 82 of them, with an abrupt short portentous sentence. Still, the pace is rapid, the characters are interesting, well and formed and the plot has many layers. Finally the subject of adoption is very compelling and Ryan does an excellent job with it, overall.
Ryan’s style gets a little mannered, but the powerful drive of the narrative pulls one through. An excellent, emotionally demanding story.