Litchfield, Texas is an upper middle-class suburb of Dallas, a community where everyone knows each other and feels safe. The illusion of safety is shattered the day four-year-old Carrie Spencer vanishes from the local playground while her mother chats with a neighbor.

Detective Maggie Ryan, a veteran of the Dallas police force, knows the dangers that can befall a helpless child. Besides, Maggie has her own baggage and vows that there is nothing she wouldnt do to rescue a child.

Maggie learns that the Spencers, far from being the ideal American family, are extremely dysfunctional. Each member, save Carrie, harbors secrets. Furthermore, Carrie went with her abductor willingly, for there are no signs of struggle. The abductor must be close at hand but even she, used to the seamier side of life, is in for a shock as the startling truth of Carries disappearance is revealed.

AND THEN SHE WAS GONE is a real heart-in-your-throat page-turner. Every woman will empathize with the situation of a missing child and feel the terror of the Spencer family. McBride does a masterful job of creating harrowing situations, and Maggie Ryan is a character worth watching. (Apr., 238 pp., $14.95)

Reviewed by: 
Toby Bromberg