Monday, March 1, 2021

The Other Daughter, by Lisa Gardner (author), Brittany Pressley (narrator)

Brilliance Audio, December 2018 (original publication July 1999)

At nine years old, a little girl with no memory of her past was abandoned in a hospital, and after several months was adopted by the wealthy Stokes family--a cardiac surgeon, his wife, and their son Brian, a family grieving the kidnapping and murder of the Stokes' four-year-old daughter, Meghan, five years earlier.

Twenty years later, Melanie Stokes is happy, confident, loving and loved by her adoptive family. She volunteers for various charities, especially the American Red Cross. On the night of one her major events, a party plus blood donation event plus "donate a rare book" to raise funds, a voice out of the past intrudes. 

A reporter from Texas, Larry Digger, catches her when she's getting a breath of fresh air, grabs her, and makes some alarming suggestions about her past. He says she's the daughter of Russell Lee Holmes, the man who, along with the deaths of six other young children, confessed to kidnaping and murdering the Stokes' first daughter, Meghan. And he says that her parents know.  How did she come to be abandoned in the very Boston hospital where Dr. Harper Stokes worked? Why was he there, and not in Texas with the rest of the family, watching the execution of Russell Lee Holmes on that night? Why hasn't she ever recovered her memory of her first nine years? Has she really not remembered anything?

Melanie is rescued from the clutches of the reporter by one of the waiters hired for the party, David Riggs. What she doesn't know about him is that he's an FBI Special Agent, investigating her father for insurance fraud.

The Stokes family and their friends (Melanie's stepfather, Jamie O'Donnell; her boss and friend at the Red Cross, Ann Margaret; her father's younger colleague and briefly Melanie's fiancé, William Sheffield) have a frightening array of secrets, and where Melanie came from and why she doesn't remember her first nine years, is just the tip of the iceberg.

And what Melanie hasn't told anyone yet is that the migraines she's been having are accompanied by frightening dreams, or visions...or memories, of being in a cabin in the woods, where Meghan Stokes is desperately pleading to be taken home. She tries to bury those memories, and certainly doesn't want to tell anyone--but Larry Digger's alarming suggestions fall on fertile ground.

Meanwhile, David Riggs has his own issues. Arthritis killed his baseball career, and as an FBI agent has him investigating insurance fraud, not organized crime, and he feels he's failed his father. And he's lying to Melanie about what he's doing around her family. Even after he admits to being an FBI agent, he's still hiding the fact that he's investigating her father, not her former fiancé, for insurance fraud.

Everyone in Melanie's life, though, is lying to her, about far more important things, and it's all about to blow up on all of them.

It's a large and complex secret that needs to be uncovered, and we get some interesting and complex character development along the way.


I bought this audiobook.

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