Boy 9, Missing
By: Nic Joseph
Publisher: Sourcebooks Landmark
Publication Date: 9/20/2016
My Rating: 4.5 Stars A reporter must confront his family’s dark past and his brother’s long unsolved murder, as his father again becomes the suspect in a disappearance. Twenty-three years ago, at a small dinner party in a Chicago suburb, Francis Scroll’s nine-year- old brother, Lucas, was found floating facedown in his parents’ bathtub. Lucas’s friend Sam is the only person who can reveal the truth, but he is unable—or unwilling—to speak, and Lucas’s death is ruled a tragic accident.
Francis is forced to confront the past he buried long ago when Sam’s own nine-year-old son goes missing, and all the evidence points to Francis’s vengeful father as the prime suspect. In order to save the life of a young boy, Francis must unearth the truth about what happened the night his brother died.
A special thank you to Sourcebooks Landmark and NetGalley for an ARC in exchange for an honest review. Great cover! BOY 9 MISSING, establishes Nic Joseph as important key young novelist and storyteller, with her emotional domestic suspense debut! A powerful, haunting tale of family, enduring love, and destructive secrets. A deeply moving examination of parenthood, and the dangers that are always lurking in the shadows. The author grabs you immediately with the first sentence. “A brother drowns in a bathtub that was less than one foot longer than he was tall.” An ordinary family trapped in a heart-wrenching crisis. Who is guilty and who is innocent? BOY 9 MISSING A human drama that pulls on larger themes of life and what it means to be a family. Exploring the family seams and fissures, between childhood and adulthood. Love and loss. Darkness and light. Exceptionally moving. An unrelentingly suspenseful thriller. A mother pregnant at the time with Lucas when they originally bought the house. His mom wanted the tub. Lucas was small for his age. Francis was thirteen years old and his little brother, Lucas was nine at the time of his death. Drowned in this very tub. How did this happen? During a dinner party twenty some years earlier, in Lansing, Illinois. Two families. A puppet show. This is when Francis’ claustrophobia and panic attacks started. Lives were changed after this one tragic night. Alex, the father had always blamed Sam. Sam Farr was a year older than Lucas—a quiet, anxious kid. The son of Francis parent’s church friends, Brian and Elizabeth. Since the moment he ran downstairs his face was blanched with terror, and his clothing drenched and clinging to his small frame. He had not said a single word. What happened in the bathroom? What if Sam had said something that night? A boy struggling with a hidden secret his entire life. The parents went to court. At war with a ten-year-old boy. Was there something inside the mind of Sam—vindictive, troubling, disgusting, and terrifying? All his parents wanted was an admission of guilt, or even a denial. A plea for forgiveness. Nothing. It never happened. Not in twenty-three years, a single word to a single soul what happened that night upstairs in Francis’s parent’s bathroom. That awful night. A monster. The parents lost the case. An accident. Everyone is left with the fallout. The guilt. A tragedy experienced by two families. When nothing is as is appears. By the time Francis started seeing therapists, he was Francis Clarke. He had to escape the media for his own sanity. From claustrophobia, to ceasing to ride trains and elevators. Dirt phobias. It started after Lucas. Alex, the father turned into a drunk. A family torn apart. Francis is now working for the paper, a reporter. Divorced. A child. A daughter. Now, years later, Sam’s nine-year-old son Matthew has gone missing. Sam’s wife Miranda is coming after his father through him. They have gone to the police and no one is doing anything. They think for sure Alex has their child. Revenge. He went missing three days earlier. Alex had apparently been following and stalking them for weeks. Told by Francis, he moves back to the Chicago area and is tracked down by Sam’s parents. The Lansing Police Department would probably do anything to protect his father, if Sam Farr was involved. Francis had not seen Sam since the day his trial ended. He still looked the same except older and thicker in the middle. Could the man (Alex, his own father) who had it in for this family have kidnapped their boy? Has he really carried a grudge all these years- Revenge? Francis meets Kira who is doing some research about Sam and his family. Sam and Miranda has hired her to ghostwrite a book. Sam’s memoir. To tell Sam’s story once and for all. The Sam Farr Story. Francis wants to help, get to the bottom of this mystery. He is desperate to right a wrong. Kira is interested in his thoughts and the accusations against his father. Francis wants Matthew found. He also wants to find his father. Readers get a glimpse of the mysterious night (with parts of the book, written by Kira -in red) as the events of the past unravel. A book within a book. Francis is trying to do the right thing, but doesn’t really know why. He wants to make up for the fact he was not there in the past. What is the real truth? Francis has to solve the mystery. Where were his parents that night? What really happened. An angry father. This is one heck of a thriller (could see a movie here) based on the novel. The mystery is suspenseful, chilling, and a heart pounding crime thriller- pulling you into this dark web of secrets and lies. A son caught in the middle and drowning himself, pulled under by the tug of love, regret, and guilt. Readers will be anxious to solve the complex mystery of these two families and the deception which lies between them. An evocative novel of redemption and forgiveness, with two families poised to implode. An older son left behind trying to put the pieces together, even in his own life with his own daughter, Amy. “You’re only two things after a divorce. You’re better, or you’re broken. And if you’re broken, you just haven’t gotten better yet.” Part intimate family drama, equal parts a gripping page-turner, and an exploration of the profound power of the truths we’re scared to face. There is much more going on here than a boy drowning, and a missing boy years later. Action-packed, a wrenching look, at what happens to the families and everyone connected by these two events. And as their lives become more intertwined, each is pushed to the breaking point, with shattering, unforeseeable consequences. I was up until 4 am and could not put this one down until the final heartfelt conclusion. Joseph is definitely an author to follow! For fans of deeper richer family sagas, such as T. Greenwood, Carla Buckley, Heather Gudenkauf, Diane Chamberlain, and Sophie Littlefield. Some of my favorites. Wow, this is the third book in a row, I have read about family secrets involving a child. Makes you wonder really what happens with all of the missing children and unsolved murder cases in our world today. So many times it is a cover-up, and may not be discovered until many years later. An ideal choice for book clubs and further discussions. An extensive reading group guide included and a Conversation with the Author. I wish more authors would include these two critical elements at the end of their books. Well done! Can’t wait to see what’s next. Review Links:
"In Joseph's debut thriller, no one escapes the wreckage of a decades-old crime, as secrets and lies imperil the survivors. An intriguing premise, breathlessly executed." - Sophie Littlefield, national bestselling author and Edgar Nominee
"Boy, 9, Missing has a gripping plot, fast-paced action, and memorable characters that you won't soon forget. This riveting debut had me hooked from page one." - Heather Gudenkauf, New York Times bestselling author of The Weight of Silence and Missing Pieces
"a surprise-filled whodunit...satisfying page-turner." - Booklist
"haunting, well-developed characters and tantalizing plot." - Publishers Weekly
"Nic Joseph gives readers an addictive psychological thriller in her gripping debut novel. Exploring unexpected depths in plot, character, and story structure, Boy, 9, Missing is a twisted ride of family and revenge. " - New York Times bestselling author Michelle Gable
"Boy, 9, Missing is a stay-up-all-night suspense tale about a tragedy from which a family and town don't recover. The characters come alive as the story twists and turns, and every one of your guesses about what happens next will be wrong. - Helen Klein Ross, author of What Was Mine
About the Author
Nic Joseph is a Chicago-based mystery and suspense writer. She often writes stories about people who do very bad things for what they think are very good reasons. She lives for the twist, the unexpected plot point and the classic summation scene.
Nic holds a B.S. in journalism and an M.A. in communications. She spends her days as a communications manager for an independent teaching hospital in Chicago, and her evenings writing fiction or watching mysteries on Netflix. Read More