After Anna by Alex Lake


A girl is missing. Five years old, taken from outside her school. She has vanished, traceless.

The police are at a loss; her parents are beyond grief. Their daughter is lost forever, perhaps dead, perhaps enslaved.

But the biggest mystery is yet to come: one week after she was abducted, their daughter is returned.

She has no memory of where she has been. And this, for her mother, is just the beginning of the nightmare.

I seem to have read quite a few books recently involving children, I’m not sure why.  I haven’t sought them out but they have been catching my eye.  There have been a real mix, from ones I just couldn’t get into like The Girl in the Red Coat by Kate Hamer to those I loved like The Wrong Girl by Laura Wilson.   This sits somewhere in between.

There are real pluses to After Anna.  The story itself is different from others I’ve read and not what I expected.  It is more a thriller than crime for a start – the police here are secondary to the parents (Julia and Brian), how they react when she goes missing and when she returns.  And there is a good twist at the end – one I thought I saw coming, then decided I was wrong, only to find out I wasn’t after all.  I had a few problems with how Alex Lake got there, including a character who pops up after only being mentioned in one chapter near the beginning of the book, but I thought overall it was clever.

The main downside for me was the characters themselves.  I really couldn’t care for any of them.  I found Julia selfish in the extreme and Brian weak.  That was Lake’s intention for Brian I’m sure – you are told often enough that Brian doesn’t have a backbone – but I can’t believe they wanted Julia to come across the way she does.  For me, it meant I ended up with no one to root for and so I didn’t care about either Julia or Brian or, as a result, about what happened to Anna herself.  Instead, I found myself turning pages to get to the end rather than because I couldn’t wait to read what happened next.

It’s a shame and I might not be in the majority here as the book is getting good reviews on goodreads and Amazon but it just didn’t do it for me.  Liked it, but not as much as I’d hoped. Have you read it? What did you think – have I missed something?




  1. There are a lot of these books about at the moment – I think if I were a parent of a small child, I’d probably avoid them. Some are obviously better executed than others…if you don’t care about the characters, you don’t care about the book. Maybe one to avoid…there’ll be another couple along in a minute!


  2. I tend to avoid books involving small children so this isn’t on my TBR list and it definitely wouldn’t be after this! I could handle Brian being weak but I think Julia would drive me nuts. I have noticed there’s been a high number of missing child stories. It’s funny how topics can be so trendy.


    • It’s a strange topic to be trendy but it is definitely a thing at the moment. I think I’ll be avoiding the subject for a while myself now. It’s getting old!


  3. We seem to have moved on from toxic marriages to missing children in the psychological thriller genre. I prefer the psychology you get within adult relationships. Paula Daly is good at that.


  4. I’m with you – there are a gazillion books about missing children out there (and many about adults who went missing or had siblings go missing). I like that this (sounds like it) offers something different but wish it had held your attention a bit better.


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