Annie is a quiet, socially awkward young woman in love with her boss Paul, and thinks Paul feels something for her in return. After having a bit too much to drink at a company function, she talks just a tad too loudly about he relationship she sees between them, and is escorted to the door by am embarrassed Paul.
She knows where Paul keeps his spare keys, though, so while Paul continues at the pub, she goes into his apartment to wander around, leaving her nametag in his bathroom and taking a tiny statuette f a baby she had given him from his mantel. There is a moment she believe she is caught, after hearing voices outside his apartment, and once the voices have faded, she leaves, returning Paul’s spare keys to their hiding place.
Flushed with the success of her mission, she drunkenly makes her way back to the train station and then to her car, sits there for an hour or so, and then heads home.
From there, everything seems to go downhill for Annie. While Paul does not directly accuse her of being in his apartment the next day, she thinks he knows she was. In addition, a girl has gone missing from Annie’s area, and from a CCTV that captured the last known movement of the girl, Annie knows it is her car Chloe passes in front of. But Annie did not see her: she was not paying attention to anything outside. Feeling badly, she joins in the searches for the girl, but the others in the group she’s assigned to find her both weird and a little creepy due to her awkwardness.
After some hesitation, Annie finally calls the police to tell them she may have been the last person to see Chloe, even though she didn’t actually see the girl. When the police visit, she tells them this. But there are questions about her timeline, and they want to know why she didn’t actually see the girl who passed right in front of her. She has no good answer, of course, other than she was drink, but she can’t tell them that.
When people find out Annie has been interviewed by the police, suddenly the shy, awkward girl is the center of attention in the office. She enjoys it for awhile, but finds that being unable to give up any real meat about the case returns her to her lonely world.
During the searches, Annie sees that Chloe’s two best friends are behaving oddly. She doesn’t mention this to the police, makes a few (awkward, of course) mentions of the friends to her search team, and it’s clear they wish she was anywhere except with them.
After Chloe goes missing, and between scenes of the present, we get flashbacks to Annie’s childhood. Known as Lottie then, one day two older girls want to include her in a secret club that involves pixies (fairies). creatures Lottie is fascinated by. The girls draw her in by setting trials she has to complete, which she does, and the last of those is a rather heinous one: sacrifice.
All of this informs Annie’s rather odd development and her awkwardness in her adult life. Eventually, Paul confronts her about being in his apartment, but doesn’t fire her. The searches are called off, and the press gets wind of Annie’s past, then police return to question her some more, and eventually, her lie is going off the rails and she considers that she may need to flee.
But then a shocking conclusion brings the entire case crashing down: more secrets are revealed, and we find that sometimes, those closest to you can be the worst for you.
It’s a great story, and Holmes captures the shy, awkward kid turning into a shy, awkward adult incredibly well. There are no major plot or character issues, and this one gets a 4.5 out of 5 stars from me, rounded up to five.
Thanks to Agora Books and NetGalley for the review copy.