One summer day, Eileen is travelling with her 3 children in the car when the car breaks down. She leaves 11 year old Jack in charge of his sisters – Joy 6 and Merry a baby, while she walks to a phone to get help. She never returns and days later her body is discovered.
The family is devastated and after a while Jack’s father, unable to cope with his grief, leaves the house to go shopping and never returns. Now Jack really is in charge. The children don’t want to lose each other so pretend that there is a parent present and Jack supports the family by breaking into houses. They don’t attend school and no-one notices because no-one really cares.
DCI Marvel has just been moved from the Met to Taunton because he has upset a few too many people. He is sure he will get back after solving a few good murders. So he isn’t happy that his first case is a burglary. The ‘Goldilocks’ burglar has been breaking into houses for years, stealing small easily sold items and food and sleeping in children’s beds. Marvel’s approach is to set up a house to bait ‘Goldilocks’.
Jack only breaks into houses where people are away on holiday. But plans have changed and Catherine is asleep in bed when Jack arrives. Jack manages to hide and flee, but in the house he has found the knife that he is sure was used to kill his mother. He leaves it by Catherine’s bed along with a threat in the hope that she will call the police. Much to Jack’s surprise, she tells no-one.
The stories gradually come together as Marvel’s team hunt for ‘Goldilocks’ while Jack hunts for his mother’s killer.
This novel was extremely tense at times, but also very emotional. Jack was a brilliant character and Belinda Bauer is one of the best I know at writing from children’s and teen’s perspectives. I have had a pretty low opinion of Marvel in the past, but he was excellent in this novel. A lot of the other characters were pretty good too. Even Jack’s father.
I still have one more of Bauer’s novels to read and I look forward to any new ones she writes.