You Believers, by Jane Bradley
Chilling, but moving
I didn't realize that You Believers was based on true characters until after I'd finished the book. It's about people who are lost and people who seek: damaged souls who take revenge on other people for their own hurt...grieving ones who lose their loved ones...and generous, dedicated people who dedicate their lives to finding the lost ones.
Shelby Waters is a professional seeker--she runs a volunteer organization that finds people who are lost. Livy's daughter Katy Conner gets nabbed in a parking lot by two young punks who met in juvenile hall. Jessie is a psychopath, and he's recruited his less intelligent friend, Mike, to help him. Jane Bradley has an uncanny ability to give us a glimpse into the psychopath's twisted mind, and even give us a tiny bit of sympathy for him (that's until we realize what he's done).
The characters all have their flaws and are battling their own demons, including Katy, who was drawn to the bad boys and the wild side of life.
Warning: this book contains a disturbing rape scene, although it's handled in a way to show the strength of the victim.
After I finished reading this moving story of loss and redemption set in the south, I looked up Jane Bradley online and was fascinated to discover that she was compelled to write this book after she met the people who inspired the characters of Livy (the mom) and Shelby (the seeker). Livy was reeling after the abduction of Peggy Carr, who was abducted in broad daylight from a shopping mall parking lot in Wilmington, North Carolina. Monica Caison, a volunteer seeker, found Carr's body 7 months after she went missing.
Bradley was compelled to write Peggy Carr's story (and that of her mother and seeker), and her novel is a beautiful memorial in honor of all three of those women.