When Bill Price’s daughter Summer first disappeared with her best friend Haley, he was worried that she may have run away from home, but when the book opens, they have been found beaten so badly they are barely recognizable. Summer is hanging on to life, but Haley is dead. He is riven with guilt because they have been quarreling recently and when a 911 call she made during an argument when he grabbed her arm comes up, he realizes he is possibly a suspect.
But David Bell’s Bring Her Home is going to take us on a fair wilder ride than that. Bill’s sister points out that the unconscious Summer’s behavior raises questions, she seems to fear Bill and rejects her childhood comfort toy. They discover that the girl whose bedside they have been tending is Haley…but the girl in the coffin is not Summer. So now Bill is driven, not to find out who did this to his daughter, but to find her and bring her home.
By now I thought this was going to be another of the ordinary guy does extraordinary things thriller. Except generally, the ordinary guy is not this ordinary. The ordinary guy was in some special forces unit. Not Bill Price. They have some handy skill that makes them extraordinary. Not Bill Price, he is a schlub and he remains a schlub, when he tries to beat up the man he thinks killed his daughter he lands on his ass. He is not particularly bright, either, and mainly stumbles around creating scenes and apologizing. He works in IT, but this is not the Dad with the Dragon Tattoo. He’s not hacking into anything. Mostly, he drives around town, watching the houses of people he thinks are keeping secrets. This is a schlub who stays a schlub all the way through to the end.
But you know what? There’s something heroic about him. He persists. He is one of those guys who has a mediocre job that is okay, but not a career he loves, but it takes care of his family. When his wife dies, he feels broken, yet he keeps going because he has a daughter and she needs him. He worries about health care costs and insurance and the bills, but he keeps going. He does not have the faintest idea how to look for his daughter but he keeps driving around, annoying people, asking questions, making a fool of himself, rolling in the mud, and even getting beat up, but he just persists without skill, without a clue, but he keeps going and going and going.
I also am grateful that when Bill who has eschewed religion since his wife’s death sits in the hospital chapel and his sister asks him if he wants to pray, he refuses. It was somewhere past the the three-quarter mark, so I knew if there were to be some break, it needed to happen soon and was afraid that it was going to happen after Bill prays. Thankfully, Bell avoided that tired cliche and so I didn’t throw the book across the room in disgust.
This is a good book. It is suspenseful. It is fast-paced, and really is there any more American hero that the guy who just keeps trying, even when he does not know what he is doing? There is something of the “working class hero” about Bill Price and a “A working class hero is something to be.”
Bring Her Home will be released July 11th. I received an ARC from the publisher through Shelf Awareness.