Dear Amy by Helen Callaghan is one of those novels that I literally had to step back from for a little while before I could decide whether or not I liked it. It started off slow and for quite sometime I had a lot of difficulty buying into the premise of a girl missing for years writing letters to our main character asking for help. Like how would she post them? If she was being held against her will, how is she getting the letters out and why to our main character who is basically a second rate dear Abby? If you’re a young woman being raped and beaten and held against your will and you get to write letters and post them, wouldn’t your first and everyone after that being going straight to the police?
Margot Lewis writes the advice column Dear Amy for The Cambridge Examiner and she consistently gets letters from women needed her help. But nothing like the letter she just received.
I’ve been kidnapped by a strange man. He says I can never go home. I’m afraid that he’ll kill me.
Please help me,
This letter has to be a hoax because Bethan Avery went missing over twenty years ago. Margot takes the letter to the police thinking they will not take it seriously but they do because it seems that another girl has gone missing and the MO is just like the kidnapper who took Bethan Avery, and they are not the only ones. Margot begins to search out the mysteries of this age old missing girl and the truth it leads her to has her and her friends questioning her own sanity.
“…I don’t understand,’ I said, a little coldly, even though I think I did. ‘There are other people who…’ I was about to add, ‘believe me’, but hearing the pining, apologetic slant in the words, I stopped myself.
‘But this Martin Forrester doesn’t know all about you, does he?’
You bitch, I thought, with something like wonder. This, I had not foreseen.
‘He doesn’t have to know about me,’ I said angrily. ‘This isn’t about me….”
Margot knows she has to find the truth about Bethan Avery, even though that truth can destroy all she has built for herself.
Dear Amy had the makings of a good tale, it certainly has a terrific twist to it. But unfortunately, like a too careful driver, Callaghan gives the clues to the real mystery of Dear Amy awhile too early in the book and after that there is nothing but the fallout from that one singular twist to deal with. And the story isn’t strong enough to sustain.
A story built around a single plot twist that while very good, isn’t enough to hold your interest throughout the whole tale.