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by C. J. Carver
Orion, July 2007
320 pages
18.99 GBP
ISBN: 0752871838

Buy in the UK | Buy in Canada

Jay McCaulay is a former army captain, now working for TRACE, a non-governmental organisation that seeks to reunite families torn apart by war. So when she's in Bristol talking to some street girls, she has a very unwelcome reminder of her past in eastern Europe when she sees Albanian crime boss Milot Dumani. And when she's abducted by three men and bundled into a car it all becomes even more sinister.

Before long Jay finds herself back in Macedonia trying to put a stop to Dumani’s escapades, which include human trafficking. And Jay’s past and present collide in the shape of Zamira, a youngster she made a promise to after saving her life in Kosovo.

Jay is a strong creation. On the one hand she's a tough as old boots professional who has killed for a living. On the other, she has the usual screwed-up love life where she's ambivalent about marrying her cop boyfriend Tom, and where her mother can do emotional blackmail for England.

The personal stuff stays just the right side of too much, although the scenes with her mother don't really ring true. Jay also seems to be Ms Indestructible – she bounces back very quickly from her ordeals, several of which are glossed over a tad too swiftly.

But Carver is a very competent storyteller and there are some very vivid, very violent scenes which uncover the horror of human trafficking – and these are the most memorable parts of the book (although immensely painful to read). In case you’re thinking she’s a new girl on the block, incidentally, she isn’t – she’s already been published as Caroline Carver.

Carver's a fluent writer, her plotting's pretty sound, she moves the book along at a cracking pace, and it’s refreshing to see a tough female lead who can take care of herself. GONE WITHOUT TRACE is a good read and I'll be watching out for the next in the series.

Reviewed by Sharon Wheeler, June 2007

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Contact: Yvonne Klein (ymk@reviewingtheevidence.com)

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