Smith, Anna - 'To Tell the Truth'
A three-year-old girl is taken from a Spanish beach and no-one admits to seeing anything. Her mother claims to have been busy in the house and not to have realised that Amy has somehow opened the door and got onto the beach to play in the sand. Amy's father was out jogging as usual and had left his daughter safe in her mother's care.
Since Rosie Gilmour is already in Spain, recuperating from a previous story where she was almost murdered, her editor asks her to cover the case of the missing child. She reluctantly breaks her holiday and travels to the area where the child has gone missing. Rosie is immediately suspicious of the parents and cannot understand how they could let their child out on her own.
Despite wide publicity no-one comes forward to the local police to say they have seen anything. Then Rosie is approached in her hotel by a young Moroccan man to say her thinks he saw the man who took Amy. Rosie learns that the young man is an illegal and working as a prostitute. He was with a client, a prominent British minister, at the time in a villa overlooking the beach and the young prostitute has evidence to prove it - the minister's House of Commons pass. Rosie realises that the story of the minister is potentially as big as the missing child - her editor wants her to check it out and to find out more about the minister's activities.
Rosie is drawn into the dangerous world of international sex-trafficking and child pornography and prostitution, where a child's life is held very cheap indeed.
Meanwhile, Amy is in the care of Besmir. Against his better judgment and his experience he is drawn to the trusting child - he begins to feel emotion that he hasn't felt in years - an urge to protect - which makes carrying out his master's instructions very difficult indeed.
The parallels with this book and the missing Madeleine McCann are obvious and, due to the subject matter, I did find this a difficult book to read. Saying that, however, I found myself, surprisingly, feeling sympathy for Besmir and others on the edges of the sex trade. Anna Smith has a writing style that takes the reader into the story and for this reason I will be looking out for others by her.
Susan White, England