The Bottom Line: An engrossing, chilling and intricate small-town mystery. Hoard has created a clever amateur sleuth that mystery fans will rally around.
Hoard is a master at transforming personal experience into explorations of humanity’s darker facets. Drawing from his experiences in rural Georgia in the ‘50s and ‘60s, he’s taken singular moments and expanded them into entire novels. With The Missing Boys, he does it again.
Four boys from Tyson County, Georgia, go missing in the span of just 18 months. After authorities dismiss the case, one of the boys’ brothers, Ryan, decides to delve deeper into the incident, literally. Since the school pool is closed for the summertime, his decision to use a rural lake to hone his skills leads to some evidence that may give closure to the families involved in the murders. Skeptics abound, especially since Tyson County is dying and kids are leaving every day to seek greener pastures. Everyone just assumes the men have gone off to find work, but Ryan’s investigation is adding some heat to what people have deemed a cold case.
Hoard adds much-needed vigor with the inclusion of one of the missing boy’s girlfriend and it’s obvious that he’s done his homework. He employed a cadre of associates to make sure that everything from medical procedure to emergency response is accurate, and it shows. By blending his own reality in the playground of fiction, G. Richard Hoard has created a stunning world that’s both compelling and frightening. It’s a joy to read, though the sometimes-dark loneliness may belie the total package. It’s an adventure cloaked in mystery and a fresh addition to Hoard’s already impressive collection.