Lizzie Summersall has gone missing and when the police visit her former boyfriend, Aiden Kendrick, he has no idea where she might be. Cloke explores her disappearance, revealing information about the key characters and their situations piece by tantalising piece, tightening and releasing the tension expertly and building in shocks and surprises along the way. The structure of the storyline will hold the attention of young adult readers but there are other hooks, too – the keen ear for dialogue, the flaring jealousy and revenge which can typify teenage relationships and the thoroughly modern references to social media and its prominent and, at times, dangerous and destructive effect on young lives.
As the story unfolds, allegiances and dislikes are made clear-and, in Deacon Honeycutt, Cloke gives us the archetypal teenage bully: arrogant, brashly handsome and emotionally ruthless. Aiden’s best friend Scobie is the geek – technologically brilliant but preferring his own company, or that of a few close and trusted friends. Yet the reader never feels betrayed by stereotypes – except, perhaps, in Kevin, Aiden’s rich, talented and socially adept stepfather in whose state-of-the-art house he and his mother live.
Scobie and Aiden begin to search for Lizzie through her newly-discovered online persona and, as the search gains momentum it twists and turns, cracking the surface veneer of relationships and exposing the raw emotions and secrets beneath so that the reader has to constantly adjust what passes for reality. The shock of the ending is viscerally unexpected and so keeps the reader thoroughly engaged until the end.