Lost You by Haylen Beck (pseudonym for Stuart Neville)
Mystery | Psychological Thriller
Published by Crown Publishing Group
Upcoming Release: August 6, 2019
Goodreads | Amazon
I received a free finished copy of this novel from Crown Publishing in exchange for an honest review.
“Even though logic and reason told her otherwise, she knew the moment that she’d been fearing for more than three years had finally come. As inevitably as morning follows night, the truth had found her. Perhaps the knowledge should have calmed her, but instead it sharpened her fear, brought panic back to the surface.”
Something you may have noticed if you’ve subscribed to this blog for a while is that I very rarely read and review mysteries and thrillers. Sure, there have been a select few, like Courtney Summers’ Sadie and Laurence Westwood’s The Willow Woman, but it’s generally not a genre that I’m familiar with.
I reached out to Crown Publishing after reading a review of this novel because it’s a genre that I want to become a fan of. I love the idea of thrillers, and Haylen Beck’s Lost You sounded like a great place to start. I’m incredibly thankful to Crown Publishing for sending me a finished copy of this novel because I really enjoyed it.
Lost You is a psychological thriller involving two women and a child that both of them believe is theirs. One of these women, Libby, desperately wants a child but isn’t able to conceive; the other, Anna, loses her job and is convinced to become a paid surrogate. Anna becomes the surrogate for Libby through a shady business called the Schaeffer-Holdt Clinic, although the two women never actually meet or know one another’s identity.
I don’t want to give too much away since this is a mystery novel, so I’m going to share the official synopsis of the story here, and then we’ll get straight into the review:
Libby needs a break. Three years ago her husband split, leaving her to raise their infant son Ethan alone as she struggled to launch her writing career. Now for the first time in years, things are looking up. She’s just sold her first novel, and she and Ethan are going on a much-needed vacation. Everything seems to be going their way, so why can’t she stop looking over her shoulder or panicking every time Ethan wanders out of view? Is it because of what happened when Ethan was born? Except Libby’s never told anyone the full story of what happened, and there’s no way anyone could find her and Ethan at a faraway resort . . . right?
But three days into their vacation, Libby’s fears prove justified. In a moment of inattention, Ethan wanders into an elevator before Libby can reach him. When the elevator stops and the doors open, Ethan is gone. Hotel security scours the building and finds no trace of him, but when CCTV footage is found of an adult finding the child wandering alone and leading him away by the hand, the police are called in. The search intensifies, a lost child case turning into a possible abduction. Hours later, a child is seen with a woman stepping through an emergency exit. Libby and the police track the woman down and corner her, but she refuses to release Ethan. Asked who she is, the woman replies:
“I’m his mother.”
What follows is one of the most shocking, twist-y, and provocative works of psychological suspense ever written. A story of stolen identity, of surrogacy gone horribly wrong, and of two women whose insistence that each is the “real” mother puts them at deadly cross-purposes, Lost You is sure to be one of 2019’s most buzzed-about novels.
Lost You starts off with a literal bang, with a woman standing at the edge of the roof of a tall building, about to jump. From there, the story weaves through the perspectives of both Libby and Anna, perfectly combining their narratives while we discover the truth of what happened in both of their pasts. This works so well for the story as it’s far more character-driven than plot-driven (although by no means is the plot lacking for substance!). The most interesting aspect of this entire novel and the thing that will keep you absolutely hooked are the personalities, motives, and personal histories of Libby and Anna.
Neither Anna nor Libby are particularly good people, which makes the story enticing. In fact, there are very few “good” people in this book, as the representatives of the Schaeffer-Holdt Clinic are downright terrible – Mr. Kovak gave me chills and made me want to punch him through the page. Despite their shortcomings, however, I felt that I understood the motivations of both of the characters and felt (somewhat) sorry for them, although the character I felt the sorriest for ended up being a surprise.
The main theme of this book is surrogacy. At the end of the book, there is a brief note from the author explaining that this is not a book against surrogacy in any way. The story has some interesting questions about surrogacy, and especially how hard it is for some women to give up a child that they’ve carried in their womb for nine months. I know I could never be a surrogate as I would not have the emotional capacity to do so, but there are women that can, and they are immensely strong women. Beck’s novel just examines how easy it would be for a woman to have doubts about the process.
I really enjoyed this book, and while there were a few places where I guessed what would happen next, the book was genuinely surprising to me. I’m glad that I received a copy to review because it has made me feel far more positive about mysteries and thrillers in general.
Lastly, I do want to give a shoutout to the cover artist, Lauren Dong, because I love the design and colors in the cover art so much.
If you are someone that cannot handle books that might involve missing children or violence towards children, definitely avoid this book. Otherwise, I very much recommend adding this to your TBR and getting ready for its upcoming release on August 6th.