A Thousand Steps

A Thousand Steps
A Thousand Steps by T. Jefferson Parker

Wednesday, September 29, 2021

What's Done in Darkness by Laura McHugh- Feature and Review


Abducted as a teenager, a woman must now confront her past and untangle the truth of what really happened to her in this dark thriller from the author of The Wolf Wants In.

"Laura McHugh expertly delivers a harrowing tale of a world where little is what it first appears to be."--Ron Rash, bestselling author of Serena

Seventeen-year-old Sarabeth has become increasingly rebellious since her parents found God and moved their family to a remote Arkansas farmstead where she's forced to wear long dresses, follow strict rules, and grow her hair down to her waist. She's all but given up on escaping the farm when a masked man appears one stifling summer morning and snatches her out of the cornfield.

A week after her abduction, she's found alongside a highway in a bloodstained dress--alive--but her family treats her like she's tainted, and there's little hope of finding her captor, who kept Sarabeth blindfolded in the dark the entire time, never uttering a word. One good thing arises from the horrific ordeal: a chance to leave the Ozarks and start a new life.

Five years later, Sarabeth is struggling to keep her past buried when investigator Nick Farrow calls. Convinced that her case is connected to the strikingly similar disappearance of another young girl, Farrow wants Sarabeth's help, and he'll do whatever it takes to get it, even if that means dragging her back to the last place she wants to go--the hills and hollers of home, to face her estranged family and all her deepest fears.

In this riveting new novel from Laura McHugh, blood ties and buried secrets draw a young woman back into the nightmare of her past to save a missing girl, unaware of what awaits her in the darkness.



What's Done in DarknessWhat's Done in Darkness by Laura McHugh
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

What’s Done in Darkness by Laura McHugh is a 2021 Random House publication.

In rural Arkansas, seventeen-year-old, Sarabeth, is abducted and held hostage for five days. She was miraculously found, but her abductor was never caught. Despite the horrendous trauma she endured, this event serves as a catalyst for her to finally escape her ultra-fanatical religious parents.

She left home, shortened her name to Sarah, and works at an animal shelter. She still lives with nightmares of being held hostage- by both her parents, in one way, and her abductor, in another. She worries about her little sister who is about to be married too soon, fated to a life Sarah only barely managed to escape, herself.

While none of her friends or colleagues are aware of her past, she is still tracked down by a highway patrol officer, named Nick Farrow, who works in the missing persons division.

He calls Sarah asking for her insights and help in the abduction of a sixteen-year-old girl. The kidnapper’s modus operandi is eerily like Sarah’s experience, but initially Sarah is reluctant to get involved.

Gradually, Nick coaxes Sarah into helping him- which also prompts her to visit her sister- hoping to save her from the life her parents have forced upon her.

Oh, wow. Laura McHugh knows how to weave a taut, pulse-pounding tale of suspense! The Gothic tones of her novels are pitch perfect, and this one is no exception.

There is a heavy atmosphere, a strong sense of foreboding that kept me riveted to the pages. It’s edgy, but also a personal triumph for our heroine. Sarah’s is braver and stronger than she knows.

Her courage is what brings her case and other ones to light- and although she must accept that there are things she can’t change, she can live her best life- and live by example.

Nick and Sarah made a good team- and hopefully, we’ll see them team up again someday.

Overall, this is another great effort by McHugh. It’s a short novel, but it really packs a punch!


Laura McHugh is the author of The Weight of Blood, winner of an International Thriller Writers Award and a Silver Falchion Award for Best First Novel, and the Missouri Author Award for Fiction. The Weight of Blood was named a Best Book of the Year by BookPage, the Kansas City Star, and the Sunday Times (UK), and was also nominated for an Alex Award, Barry Award, and GoodReads Choice Award (Best Mystery and Best Debut). Her novel Arrowood was a finalist for the 2017 International Thriller Writers Award for Best Novel, and The Wolf Wants In was named one of the best books of 2019 by Library Journal. What's Done in Darkness will be published June 22nd, 2021.

A lifelong Midwesterner, McHugh lives in Missouri with her husband and children.

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