Ten Little Girls by Willow Rose is Rebekka Franck novel number nine. Almost all criticism I have of Willow Rose books relate to their structural presentation. If a novel is listed on Amazon at 295 pages as this one is, I expect to read a story that is close to that length. That happened with this novel, there are 270 pages of the story which includes a very good three-page afterword in which Rose reveals some of her research. That is as scary as parts of the novel because it references actual events modified slightly in her fictional representations.
I am not a speed reader, I average fifty pages per hour so this novel should have taken me approximately five hours. I read it in just over three hours. That should qualify it as a page turner (or page clicker on my Kindle). I gave this fast-paced thriller five Amazon stars. It is a thriller; children are kidnapped and (yay!!) the only sex presented during critical parts of the story is a vague possible worry on the part of the captured and confined children who are pre-pubescent and sexually uninformed. In other words, this thriller is safe for kids and other families. Even violence is expressed in a low-key way as far as the kidnapped children. There is violence depicted in a spousal abuse context but it is in no way gratuitous.
It is the afternoon of an average school day and there is a collection of waiting mothers for a school bus arrival at a neighborhood collection point. Moms are airing common complaints and sharing gossip. Busses arrive but several students don’t arrive. After several hours of confusion, it is apparent that a total of ten children have probably been kidnapped. One is Julie Franck, daughter of our series hero, Rebekka Franck.
For those who haven’t read other novels from this excellent series, Rebekka is from Denmark. She and husband Sune with their children are in the US on a five-year visa. This is lucky for their family because husband Sune has suffered an injury confining him to a wheelchair. He is recovering steadily through physical therapy and will recover completely but in this novel, he is useless until the very end of the novel when he becomes less than useless. (Really, this is not a spoiler).
Children are missing, authorities and communities are mobilized for search team duties. Nothing works. No effort succeeds in finding children. It is only when the kidnappers decide to return the children one by one that some parents find relief. Kidnappers do not release children directly to their parents. They place the children in concealed locations and deliver parts of a nursery rhyme to give rescuers clues about the children’s location. The clues are difficult to decipher. It is only Rebekka that comes up with correct interpretations about where the released children are. That is a bit coincidental but this is an entertaining work of fiction; we must allow creative license.
Julie Franck becomes a leader of the confined children, helping them to survive a confined environment and eventually helping some of them to escape. From the first attempted escape of the children to the final climax, the pace of writing becomes even faster.
I have read all eight previous Rebekka Franck novels and this novel does not disappoint. It is still fresh in its approach and is not formulaic. There are still surprises. I look forward to reading more from this author with a solid performance as a writer of entertaining thrillers. Many Willow Rose thrillers, such as this one, are available as a free read on Kindle Unlimited.