In the Somerset village of Sawbridge, young shopkeeper Molly Heywood slips away from the celebrations to her friend's cottage and makes a shocking discovery: Cassie is dead and her six-year-old daughter Petal has vanished without a trace.In her grief, Molly seeks help from her childhood friend George, now the village policeman, but no one can find Petal. The only clue is a letter from London, where Cassie once lived. Despite George's reluctance and her growing feelings for him, Molly resolves to go to London in the hope of discovering the missing child.Arriving in the big city, Molly quickly learns it's a dangerous place for a country girl on her own. But there's hope too - in the Blitz-ruined East End, she unexpectedly finds friendship with strangers from Cassie's past and, with handsome, mysterious workman Charley, the possibility of something more.However, the closer Molly gets to the truth, the more perilous her journey becomes. She has given up everything - her home, happiness and a chance at love - all to find Petal. But is she also risking her life?
Without A Trace is published by Michael Joseph in hardback on 7 May 2015 and is Lesley Pearse's twenty-third novel.
Lesley Pearse is a global No.1 bestlseller with fans across the world and sales of over 10 million copies of her books to date. I have been a huge fan of Lesley Pearse for over twenty years, and have read all of her books. I will always remember sitting reading her novel Rosie on the morning of my wedding, in the Caribbean. My Mum says that Never Look Back is the best book that she has ever read, and I must admit that I do have a soft spot for Matty, the heroine of that story too.
Since I began this blog, I have reviewed a few Lesley Pearse books, including; The Promise (December 2011); Forgive Me (December 2012) and Survivor (February 2014).
Set in the 1950s and beginning on Coronation Day in 1953, Without A Trace is a story populated by colourful characters who the reader will really care about.
Molly Heywood lives in a small Somerset village. Molly is a kind, warm and loving girl despite living with her brutish, violent and critical father and her timid, nervous mother. Molly's sister Emily fled the family home as soon as she turned sixteen, and Molly longs to escape too, but would never leave her mother alone with that awful man.
Molly has befriended Cassie and her small daughter Petal. Cassie is a newcomer to the village, and is something of a mystery and is also the subject of village gossip. An unmarried mother with a mixed race child she dresses in tight skirts, dyes her hair bright red and holds her head high; Cassie is a breath of fresh air to Molly, despite her reluctance to reveal any personal details about her background.
When Molly finds Cassie dead in her small cottage, and little Petal missing, her world changes completely. The Police do not seem to be interested in finding Petal, or the murderer. Molly is determined that she will find Cassie's family, surely they will want to find Petal, to make sure that she is safe?
Lesley Pearse takes Molly and her readers to the riches of London's Oxford Street, and to the poverty of the the East End. Molly's trusting nature gets her into situations with people she never thought that she would meet, in places that are alien and so different to life in a sleepy village. Through all her troubles and sadness, Molly remains determined and strong. Her experiences with her abusive father have strengthened her character far more than she could ever have imagined.
Lesley Pearse deals with emotive issues within the story of Without A Trace. The 1950s were hard times despite the end of the War and people were still nervous of change and suspicious of anyone who may be different. Laws were still in place that actively encouraged prejudice and discrimination, and the author cleverly weaves these into Molly's story.
Twenty two books by Lesley Pearse have delighted me over the years, and I'm thrilled that Without A Trace is just as enjoyable as her previous books. Molly is another of this author's trademark strong women, the whole story is gripping, and compelling from the very first page.
Lesley Pearse is one of the greatest storytellers out there. Without A Trace is unforgettable, it is told from the heart and is really very very good.
My thanks, as always to Emma who sent my copy for review.
A true storyteller and a master of gripping storylines, there is no set formula for a Lesley Pearse novel although strong heroines and difficult circumstances are pervasive. Whether historical adventures such as Gypsy or Never Look Back or the passionately emotive Trust Me, Lesley is inspired by stories of courage and adversity and often gives voice to women lost in history. She is passionate about her research and her stories have taken her far and wide; from Alaska to the Crimea.
Lesley has recently moved to the seaside in Torquay, Devon where she loves to spend time with her daughters and three grandchildren. Without A Trace also features many places close to Lesley's heart including Somerset, the East End of London and Rye in Kent, her father's hometown, where she spent many happy childhood holidays.
A fantastic speaker and committed and passionate fundraiser for the NSPCC, Lesley is a much sought after guest at literary lunches, library events and festivals up and down the country. Lesley was also selected as the first Ambassador for National Libraries Day 2014.
For more information, visit her website www.lesleypearse.com
Follow her on Twitter @LesleyPearse