I’d really like to welcome Alexandra Burt and her blog tour to Novel Kicks today. Her latest novel, Little Girl Gone was released by Avon on 24th September 2015. To celebrate, we have an extract from Little Girl Gone. Enjoy….
A baby goes missing. But does her mother want her back?
When Estelle Paradise’s baby daughter is taken from her crib, she doesn’t report her missing. A week later, Estelle is found in a wrecked car miles from home, with a gunshot wound to the head and no memory. The only thing she can remember is the blood…so much blood.
She knows she holds the key to what happened that night – but what she doesn’t know is whether she was responsible.
The blood lingers. There’s flashes of crimson exploding like lightning in the sky, one moment they’re illuminating everything around me, the next they are gone, bathing my world in darkness. Then the bloody images fade and vanish, leaving a black jittering line on the screen.
Squeaking rubber soles on linoleum circle me and I feel a pat on my shoulder.
This isn’t real. A random vision, just a vision. It doesn’t mean anything.
A nurse gently squeezes my shoulder and I open my eyes.
‘Mrs Paradise,’ the nurse’s voice is soft, almost apologetic. ‘I’m sorry, but I have orders to wake you every couple of hours.’
‘Blood,’ I say, and squint my eyes, attempting to force the image to return to me. ‘I don’t understand where all this blood’s coming from.’ Was that my voice? It can’t be mine, it sounds nothing like me.
‘Blood? What blood?’ The nurse looks at my immaculately taped central line. ‘Are you bleeding?’
I turn towards the window. It’s dark outside. The entire room appears in the window’s reflection, like an imprint, a not-quite true copy of reality.
‘Oh God,’ I say and my high-pitched voice sounds like a screeching microphone. ‘Where’s my daughter?’
Voices enter my room like a slow drift of clouds, merging with the scent of pancakes, syrup, toast, and coffee, making my stomach churn. I feel a hand on my arm.
‘Mrs Paradise? I’m Dr Baker.’
I judge only his age − he is young − as if my brain does not allow me to appraise him further. Have I met him before? I don’t know. Everything about me, my body and my senses, is faulty. When did I become so forgetful, so scatterbrained?
He wears a white coat with his name stitched on the pocket: Dr Jeremy Baker. He retrieves a pen from his coat and shines a light into my eyes. There’s an explosion so painful I clench my eyelids shut. I turn my head away from him, reach up and feel the left side of my head. Now I understand why the world around me is muffled; my entire head is bandaged.
‘You’re at County Medical. An ambulance brought you to the emergency room about . . .’ He pauses and looks at his wristwatch. I wonder why the time matters. Is he counting the hours, does he want to be exact? ‘. . . on the fifth, three days ago.’
Three days? And I don’t remember a single minute.
Ask him, go ahead, ask him. ‘Where’s my daughter?’
‘You were in a car accident. You have a head injury and you’ve been in a medically induced coma.’
Accident? I don’t remember any accident.
He didn’t answer my question. He talks to me as if I’m incapable of comprehending more elaborate sentences.
‘They found you in your car in a ravine. You have a concussion, fractured ribs, and multiple contusions around your lower extremities. You also had a critical head injury when they brought you in. Your brain was swollen, which was the reason for the induced coma.’
I don’t remember any accident. What about Jack? Yes, Mia’s with Jack. She must be. One more time. ‘Was my daughter in the car with me?’
‘You were alone,’ he says.
‘She’s with Jack? Mia’s with my husband?’
‘Everything’s going to be okay.’
The blood was just a vision, it wasn’t real. She’s with Jack, she’s safe. Thank God. Everything’s going to be okay, he said.
My verdict on Little Girl Gone.
Estelle Paradise wakes up in her car one morning seriously injured and with no idea how she got there. Furthermore, her infant daughter has been missing for a few days and she has not reported her missing. It is not long before suspicion falls on Estelle and people begin to ask whether she is capable of harming her baby.
The subject matter of this book is not comfortable. A baby goes missing and her mother is suspected of being responsible. Alexandra really does put Estelle into the spotlight and I really did suspect her (I don’t want to give too much away.) As a result of those suspicions, it took me a while to connect to Estelle.
It did take me a little time to get into this novel and for me to gain momentum with it. I don’t think it had anything to do with the book and everything to do with how I responded to what the book was about. However, the further I got into the book, the more I couldn’t stop reading. Alexandra’s writing style is easy to fall into and the more I read, the more I felt like I was really getting into the character’s heads.
The story is split between Estelle talking to her therapist and flashbacks which do eventually reveal what happened to Mia and how Estelle ended up close to dead in the middle of nowhere. The plot was well paced and the twists and turns are spread out well throughout the book. I think this book does tackle the subject of post-natal depression well and highlights how seriously it should be taken.
There are a few great twists and turns and the tension is built up really well. Even though I found the subject hard to read about, it is a very original novel. I think this is a great crime debut and I am looking forward to seeing more from Alexandra Burt.
The tour continues tomorrow over at Shaz’s Book Blog.
Alexandra was born in Germany. After her college graduation she moved to Texas and, while pursuing literary translations, she decided to tell her own stories. After three years of writing classes her short fiction appeared in the Freedom Fiction Journal, All Things Girl, MUSED Literary Review, and Heater Crime Fiction Magazine. She is a member of Sisters In Crime, an organization promoting the advancement, recognition and professional development of women crime writers. She lives in Texas with her husband, her daughter, and two Labradors.
Visit her website: http://www.alexandraburt.com