Long Time Gone
March 11, 2024

Book Review

Long Time Gone

reviewed by Carolyn Scott


Dr Sloan Hastings has been awarded a prestigious fellowship for a two-year training program in forensic pathology in Raleigh, North Carolina. In her first year, she will assist in some autopsies as well as completing a research project before spending her second-year full time on autopsies.

The research project assigned to her is on how the advances in DNA technology and genealogy can benefit forensic science. Knowing little about DNA technology, she consults an expert and he suggests she submit her own DNA to an ancestry website to learn about the process and the what sort of information can be obtained.

Sloan has known since a young age that she was adopted through a private agency. After her happy childhood and upbringing with loving adoptive parents, she has never felt the need to look for her biological parents. But now she can’t help being curious and excited about whether the DNA test will find her biological relatives. However, she could never have anticipated the startling results that came back.

At first Sloan is shocked to find out that her DNA is connected to a thirty-year-old cold case of a missing baby, famously dubbed ‘Baby Charlotte’ by the media. However, she decides that searching for what happened to Baby Charlotte would make an excellent dissertation for her genealogy research project, so she arranges to go to the small town of Cedar Creek, in Harrison County, Nevada to meet Charlotte’s relatives, the Margolis family.

The Margolis’ family influence and power extends into every corner of Harrison County to such an extent that they can control the decisions made by the local police, medical examiners and prosecutors. Not all of the family are happy to meet Sloan and answer her questions. However, she finds an ally in one of Baby Charlotte’s aunts, Nora who married into the family, as well as in the local Sheriff, Eric Stamos who is also trying to find some answers to past events.

Told in dual time lines and moving along at a good pace as tension builds, this is a very addictive read, pulling the reader in to wanting to know what happened to Baby Charlotte and more importantly why. Sloan is a great protagonist, confident and fearless of uncovering secrets that may put herself in danger. Nora and Eric are also strong, likeable characters, both wanting the truth to finally come out, no matter who might get hurt in the process. It’s a clever plot, masterfully delivered by Donlea, with a brilliantly quirky final twist that might make you laugh (even if you don’t fully believe it).

With thanks to Kensington Books via Netgalley for a copy to read.

Long Time Gone is available at:

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