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Lost Little Girl
Nashville PI Jackson Gamble takes on a case that on the surface seems simple enough. All he has to do is find and return home a fourteen-year old girl named Gabrielle Hawkins who has disappeared from home. Gamble’s experience tells him the girl is just another runaway, but her mother insists she has been kidnapped. The search for Gabrielle sets Gamble on a path that leads him through the city’s underbelly of sex for hire, pornography, snake-handling religious fundamentalists, and ultimately a serial killer of teenaged girls. With the help of an attractive women who has a heartbreaking past of her own, he closes in on the conclusion of his investigation, with results that are both tragic and unforgettable, where the smallest mistake could spell the end of both his career and his life.
YA author Stout (Gideon’s Ghost) makes his adult debut with a solid mystery, a series launch introducing Nashville PI Jackson Gamble. A former cop, Jackson was once assigned to the local prosecutor’s office, where he was turned off by its corruption, driven by a district attorney devoted to making deals to let select guilty people off the hook. Jackson’s skills and ethics are put to the test when hospital employee Delsey Lee Hawkins asks him to find her missing 14-year-old daughter, Gabrielle. Delsey Lee is sure her child would never leave home voluntarily, but she’s failed to get the police to take seriously her suspicions of an abduction. In her desperation, Delsey Lee has sought out Jackson against the wishes of her husband, an ultra-conservative pastor who believes when and if his daughter returns is “part of God’s plan” and who opposes active measures to find her. The case, which begins by Jackson interviewing Gabrielle’s high school guidance counselor and her best friend, soon becomes much more involved than he expected. Stout is especially good at rendering Nashville’s seedy underbelly. Fans of Jaden Terrell’s Nashville-based Jared McKean series will want to take a look. (Self-published)