Sunday 25 September 2016

Crime: Baby Doll by Hollie Overton

Penguin, €14.99

Hilary A White

Published 08/08/2016 | 02:30

Baby Doll by Hollie Overton
Baby Doll by Hollie Overton

Natascha Kampusch was held in a secret cellar for eight years after being kidnapped at the age of 10 in Austria. Ohio was the scene of an even more horrific crime, after Ariel Castro kidnapped three young women and held them for more than a decade in his family home. One of the women gave birth to a daughter during her time in captivity.

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It's cases such as these which have inspired American scriptwriter Hollie Overton's debut novel Baby Doll, which details what happens when Lily Rider - abducted as a 16-year-old after accepting a lift home from her high school English teacher - finally escapes Rick Hanson's basement nine years later, along with a daughter conceived through rape.

Things were hardly going to be the same when she returned home, and Overton's tense psychological tale skilfully unpicks the tangled aftermath of these events as Lily attempts to bring Hanson to justice while rebuilding her relationship with her twin sister Abby, whose life was affected for the worst too.

It's a refreshingly brisk and efficient read, and the author's own back story is equally intriguing. An identical twin herself, Overton is the child of a man once jailed for manslaughter for his part in the activities of the brutal Texas-based Overton Gang in the 1960s. This troubling blurring of the line between fact and fiction adds a sinister skein to the narrative, and the abductor Rick, though a fictional creation, feels unnervingly, claustrophobically real, adding genuine urgency to Abby's determination to break his continuing hold over Lily.

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