Jay Roberts

Lost Hours
by Paige Shelton
Minotaur Books, December 2023, $28

In author Paige Shelton's Lost Hours, the fifth book in her Alaska Wild series, Beth Rivers is marking one year since she escaped her kidnapper and disappeared to Benedict, Alaska.

If all is not well with Beth, things are at least looking up. With her story now known throughout the world, she's focusing on her career as a thriller writer while tentatively looking ahead to returning to Missouri, the scene of her traumatizing abduction. She's reconnected with her long-lost father, though it is still at an arm's length. Add in Tex, the man she's been sort of seeing, and a growing fondness for the townspeople of Benedict, and Beth has seemingly gotten back on solid footing.

While taking in the sights of the Alaskan glaciers with Tex, a woman appears on the shore of an island as Beth's cruise ship passes by. The woman is covered in blood and soon a rescue party is dispatched. The woman, Sadie, clearly traumatized, tells a story about being kidnapped and how she escaped after being brought to the island. Beth can't help but feel a connection, having lived through her own harrowing experience, and draws the woman out of her shocked state to get more details.

Once back on the mainland, the chief of police begins an investigation and picture begins to emerge: Sadie is hiding in witness protection and doesn't trust the Juneau police who are supposed to be watching over her, and several details that aren't fitting quite right. Where's the body of the kidnapper (supposedly killed by a bear)? Is there a reason the woman is so afraid the cops.

Meanwhile, Beth's father asks her to spend time with a tourist family, who has booked him and his boat to show them around—their daughter, Gracie, is a big fan of Beth's thriller writing. But when Gracie disappears in what seems to be another kidnapping, the drama kicks up to a fever pitch. Now Beth is looking into two different crimes, but are they really separate or are they somehow tied together?

Author Paige Shelton does yet another superb job in building up the mystery and then parsing out clues that will have readers questioning what they thought they knew. And just when the reveal of whodunit seems be the end of things, Shelton shakes the snow globe and upends Beth's life once more.

With a plot full of of intrigue and a cast of characters whose secrets, lies, and truths jump off the page, Lost Hours will have you fully engrossed from start to finish.