wrong-girl-240hThe Wrong Girl

By Hank Phillippi Ryan

Series: Jane Ryland


Hardcover, $24.99

July 29, 2014

366 pages

Boston newspaper reporter Jane Ryland believes in digging for the truth even if it means putting her life on the line. So when her friend, Tucker Cameron, asks her for help in learning who her true birth mother is, Jane promises to assist her. Tucker informed her that ten years ago she contacted Brannigan Family and Children’s Services to learn about her birth mother. She was told it was a closed adoption and that her records were sealed until her birth mother gave approval for them to be opened.

About the same time Tucker and Jane are going to meet who the agency says is Tucker’s mom, there’s a murder. A 30-year-old woman died from blunt trauma. The police not only find her body, but two very young children alive and well. They may have witnessed the murder, but are clearly too young to provide details. Alex, Jane’s boss at the Register Newspaper, assigns her the “Murder in Rosedale” story. Assigned to the investigation are Katharine Bradley McMahon, the new medical examiner, Detective Jake Brogan and his partner, Detective Paul DeLuca. Upon viewing the crime scene, while Jake was taking notes on the items observed, he sees an empty cradle. There appeared to be three children, but only two were at the scene. Where was the baby? The question is, is this a domestic or is it something entirely different that is off the police department’s radar?  The answers might be known by the child therapist, Bethany Sibbach, assigned to care for little Phillip and Phoebe.

Equally curious about learning about Tucker is Ella Gavin, from the Brannigan Agency.  Tucker had called her and shared her impression that she was the wrong child. She copied Tucker’s records, but believed there was more information stored away at Lillian Finch’s home.  Lillian was a long-time employee at the Brannigan. Unfortunately, her co-workers learn that she’s now the late Lillian Finch because she was found dead in her home.

While Ella continues to investigate Tucker’s case without the agency owner knowing what she’s truly up to, there are other actions occurring. For one, Jake knows that Phillip might be able to acknowledge that a child was present as Jake believes there was. There’s also the illegal removal of evidence at the scene of the crime by the Afterwards cleaning service.  Jane’s very life is at risk simply because she’s pursuing the case as a journalist and friend.

I found “The Wrong Girl” difficult to put down. I loved the fast pacing, the continuous changing of the character’s points of view. I had to know if there truly was a missing baby and, of course, I wanted Tucker to know the true details of her birth mother’s identity. Jane and Jake’s constant need to keep their growing love for each other a secret builds the tension of the story even more. What a shame that their relationship would be considered a conflict of interest.

For me the quality of a book is determined by the skill of the storyteller. Does the author keep my interest from the first paragraph or do I have to read several chapters before I get into it?” “Listen, Jane, I don’t think she’s my mother,” what Tuck tells Jane, that got my attention right away. That’s the first line in the book. Hank doesn’t weigh down a story with foreshadowing and heavy passages of background, she just gets to the point. More than anything, evidence plays a major role in determining the truth of so many children’s lives. What the story was actually about is a warning that this could happen. I would think that a DNA test today could help confirm the truth, but years ago there was no such thing. Not only did I enjoy reading her novels, “The Other Woman” and “The Wrong Girl,” I already requested “What You See” and received it. I’ll be reading it soon. “Truth Be Told” is the only book in series that I haven’t read.

Four and a half birth records out of five

Denise Fleischer


August 21, 2016