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Light Shining in the Forest by Paul Torday

In the North East of England, someone is taking children, leaving holes in the lives of their families. Meanwhile, successful political climber Norman Stokoe has just landed a seemingly cushy job as Children’s Czar for the North East. 

However, after relocating from London, he finds that despite receiving an office, a PA and a regular wage; he has no real duties and appears to have been overlooked. Then, journalist Willie Craig brings to Norman’s attention the mystery of the missing children, and Norman is forced to take action for the first time in his career. 

The disappearance of one of the children, Theo Constantine, has a particularly devastating effect on his mother and stepfather. He was loved by not only his family, but everyone who knew him. Despite being labelled a runaway, there seems to be more to Theo than meets the eye, especially regarding the strange marks that appeared on his body before he vanished. 

The book takes us through many points of action, including the differing lives of the children just before they go missing and the moment they are taken. It is skilfully written, with quick, to-the-point sentences that make the build up even more sinister. Then, as the main characters conduct their investigations; their findings introduce more people into the plot which adds suspense and drama to the tale. 

I think the backdrop of the forest and the northern wilderness was a great setting for this story, and the descriptions of the landscape were strangely beautiful at times, given the gruesome events that take place there. Overall I thought this was an outstandingly written original tale that both chills and fascinates at the same time. 

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