New Books: Cemetery Girl by David Bell
Cemetery Girl tells the story of Tom and Abby Stuart. They are a perfect couple with good jobs, a nice home, and a beautiful twelve-year-old daughter named Caitlin. Everything is great in their lives until the unthinkable happens—one day Caitlin goes out to walk the family dog, and she doesn’t come home. When the book begins, Caitlin has been gone for four years, and Tom and Abby are facing a dilemma that the loved ones of missing people face all the time: Do we move on and accept that our child isn’t coming back? Or do we keep hope alive against all odds and never give up or let go?
I started writing this book because I think one of the most terrifying things a person can encounter in life is the unknown, especially as it relates to those closest to us. What could be more frightening than having someone very close to you who harbors a secret they won’t share? What could be more frightening than having someone in your own house who may have been keeping secrets from you? What if someone in your own house suddenly turned into someone you can’t recognize and don't even know? These are some of the questions that sent me down the road to Cemetery Girl.
One of the questions I get asked a lot is: How can you write a book about a father when you don’t have children yourself? The novel is narrated by Tom Stuart, the father of the missing girl, and it’s his obsession with finding the truth that drives the book. The answer to that question about having children is simple: No, I don't have children, but I have been someone’s child my whole life. I understand the parent-child dynamic from that side, and I understand what it’s like to be part of a family, to be a husband, a son, a brother, a nephew. Cemetery Girl is very much a story about a family. It is about the ties that bind us to one another. It’s also about the way those ties change as our circumstances change. The ties bend, stretch and sometimes even break, but they are always there. We never stop being our parents’ children, even after they are gone and we are grown. We never stop being brothers and sisters. We never stop being family whether we want to admit it or not.
It’s not giving too much away about the book to say that Caitlin comes home after four years. (This is in the summary on the back of the book.) And her return only creates more problems for the family. Rather than having a tearful, heartfelt reunion, the family is faced with even more questions: Where was she for four years? Who was she with? Did she choose to be gone—or as she taken? These questions carry the book through to the end and seem to provide the suspense and emotion that thriller readers respond to. I’ve been fortunate to receive some good reviews and great blurbs from writers I admire so much: Lisa Unger, John Lescroart, Will Lavender, Jonathan Maberry, and Tom Monteleone. If you like a suspenseful tale about a family pushed to the limit, a tale full of twists and turns, then you’ll probably like Cemetery Girl. It makes a good choice for book clubs because of the many questions it raises about the characters’ behavior and motivations. Let me know what you think when you read it. I can be reached through my website: www.davidbellnovels.com