Newspaper reporter Jane Ryland is desperate to snag the big story that will provide her with job security in the print journalism industry that's making fast and furious cutbacks. When she gets a call to cover a murder story on a cold, snowy night, she jumps at the chance. At the crime scene, there's an unidentified dead woman, two toddlers and an empty crib that may or may not have contained a baby who's now nowhere to be found. There's more going on here than meets the eye, and Jane is determined to discover the truth.
Also assigned to the case, albeit in a law enforcement capacity, is Detective Jake Brogan of the Boston Police Department, a man who is sadly off limits, but one to whom Jane is irresistibly drawn. Jake is puzzled by the murder scene that reveals no details about the identity of the dead woman. There are no personal papers or forms of identification to reveal who she and the children are. All of his alarm bells are ringing that something even more sinister and serious than murder is afoot.
"THE WRONG GIRL is a fascinating novel about the murky situations that occur when children are unable to remain with their birth parents and the circumstances that take place when they're placed with foster and adoptive families."
When no one is willing or able to divulge detailed information regarding the two toddlers who were the only survivors of the murder, Jane decides to do a story on what happens to children once they enter the foster care system. As she begins to dig deeper into this story, she receives threats warning her to back off --- or else. While she's inclined to proceed with the story, her editor and the publisher of the Register aren't so keen in light of the threats.
On the same night as the murder, Jane's former co-worker, Tuck Cameron, approaches her with a mystery as well. Tuck was given up by her birth mother when she was a baby and adopted by a couple who desperately wanted a baby. The adoption was facilitated by an established and respected adoption agency known as "The Brannigan." The Brannigan has a policy of connecting adopted children and their birth parents if and when both parties give their permission. Recently, Tuck was able to meet her birth mother, who was overjoyed to see her. Unfortunately, Tuck is convinced that this woman isn't her real mother and that she is actually the wrong girl.
Before Jane has made much progress on either front, an employee, Lillian Finch, and the owner of The Brannigan, Niall Brannigan, are both found dead. One has been murdered and the other died under mysterious circumstances. Exactly what is going on at The Brannigan that has someone so desperate to hide the truth? Jane doesn't know yet, but is itching to find out.
As Jane continues to investigate and cross paths with Jake, the chemistry between them makes it hard for either of them to concentrate fully on their business. As much as they'd like to be together, they know that a personal relationship with each other is professional suicide for both. Will they be able to keep their hands off one another and get to the bottom of the mysteries that are piling up around them? Only time will tell.
THE WRONG GIRL is a fascinating novel about the murky situations that occur when children are unable to remain with their birth parents and the circumstances that take place when they're placed with foster and adoptive families. The tension escalates throughout the book, and the questions multiply as each new fact is revealed. Hank Phillippi Ryan’s latest work culminates in an engrossing climax that answers all the questions that are raised throughout the story to reveal who's behind the terror that takes place while they strive to keep their ugly secrets and cash in on other people's pain.
Reviewed by Amie Taylor on September 13, 2013