Half Moon Bay by Alice LaPlante
Deep in grief, after the accidental death of her teen age daughter, Jane moves to Half Moon Bay to start over. But starting over can be highly overrated – or just plain easier said than done. As an expert in local plants, Jane finds her work in a nursery something that she can cope with. Watching new things grow is something she can control.
Ever so slowly, Jane finds she can also encourage the sprouts of a normal new life for herself. She is accepted in town, meets a few people, Adam a co-worker, Helen, her boss, Alma and Edward whose lifestyle both mystifies and fascinates Jane. She works at keeping her daughter’s ghost at bay but it works only if no one asks about her.
Then children start to disappear. Little girls are found dead but primped and posed in playful positions. It’s a tragedy the small town can’t come to grips with. They need someone to blame and Jane is the newcomer, the loner, the one who takes walks in the middle of the night and can’t give an accounting of her whereabouts. Sometimes her grief makes her wonder about her own sanity and innocence.
The author takes us back into Jane’s life as she was growing up and we see what torment can really be. Then when her daughter turns into a surly teenager much like the teens Jane had to survive, we come to think, “hmmm…maybe, maybe.”
We are never quite sure who, of the people the author introduces us to, might be taking these little girls. We start to see things Jane won’t see. And just when you think living in a small town is the good, safe life!