Girl Last Seen, by Nina Laurin


Nina Laurin’s first novel begins with Ella Santos looking back 10 years after escaping from her kidnapper who held her prisoner for three years, now convinced that her kidnapper has taken another young girl.

Ella was ten years old, living with a single drug addicted mom, when she was abducted and taken to her basement prison, with no windows, where she spent the next three years being raped and tied up. She got pregnant when she was 13 and about that time she got free. She ran from her prison, in the rain, barefoot in the gravel, along a road, and was noticed and found by a police officer who took her to a hospital. Her mother authorized the hospital to give the baby up for adoption and she was never allowed to see her little girl.

Ella spent the next ten years in a daze, convinced she was worthless, eventually changing her name to Laine Moreno, trying to put everything behind her. She watched every report she could find of young girls who were abducted, looking at pictures in the newspapers for years, expecting to find someone like she had been, who had been taken, thinking that it may help her someday find her captor.

10-year-old Olivia Shaw is kidnapped, and it is highly publicized on TV and the newspapers. Laine feels drawn to the story, shaken with the picture of Oliva, who comes from a privileged neighborhood, very different from Laine's own background.

At the same time Detective Sean Ortiz is also drawn to the story. He is the policeman who first found Laine at 13.  Olivia’s family is working with Detective Ortiz. When he learns that she was taken from school Ortiz allows Laine to go with him to meet Oliva’s parents and go to the school. Olivia’s mother seems to reach out to Laine not concerned if she is the guilty one but recognizing her pain over her own similar event.

Laine’s emotional roller coaster and lack of trust leads her to breaking off on her own and before long she seems to be one step ahead of Ortiz.

Some critics have suggested that Lanie’s dialog regarding her emotional scars and problems overshadow some needed plot connections in this first effort novel. I felt that it wasn’t a distraction and the plot held my interest all the way through.

Nina Laurin is a bilingual (English/French) author of suspenseful stories for both adults and young adults. She got her BA in Creative Writing at Concordia University, in her hometown of Montreal, Canada.