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Jean Rover, author
Something's amiss in Oregon's backcountry. A teacher spots a scruffy stranger loitering near the Forest Lake grade school, and there's a young boy missing in a neighboring county. Then eight-year-old Cody Benson, on an outing with his grandfather in the Big Bat Wilderness area, vanishes. Ken Blake, the deputy sheriff coordinating the search for Cody thinks he wandered off and froze to death. Cally Benson, Cody's mother, and eventually, the townsfolk are convinced a registered sex offender, living nearby in a run-down mobile park abducted the boy and Ken botched the search. When the shaken town demands answers, they hurl rumors and accusations like primordial speats, but they are all wrong about what really happened to Cody.
Plot/Idea: 8 out of 10
Originality: 7 out of 10
Prose: 8 out of 10
Character/Execution: 6 out of 10
Overall: 7.25 out of 10


Plot/Idea: Rover’s tense plot about a boy lost in the Oregon wilderness builds on the very adult fear of losing one’s child. Rover manages to fuse the frustrations of a crime investigation with the prejudices of a small town for a blend that mystery fans will find engrossing.

Prose:  Rover writes with a clear sense of place. Her prose is sharp and succinct, capturing the idiosyncratic life of the citizens of a small, rural town.

Originality: Rover manages to suffuse a standard missing child plot with enough twists and turns to keep even the most seasoned reader entertained.

Character Development/Execution: In some instances, Rover’s descriptions of Native American characters would benefit from additional nuance. Other characters are rendered in more sympathetic terms, and they brim with color and life.

Blurb: This heartrending mystery in the Oregon backwoods follows Cody, a precocious young child who goes missing. 

Date Submitted: April 05, 2022