The story opens in a unique way with a young girl named Bailey and a man named Tommy who works in conjunction with each other on Mailboat. Bailey’s job is to hope on the boat, jump off and deliver the mail. As a mail jumper on Lake Geneva she had the task of jumping off the boat, delivering the mail and hoping that Tommy who ran the Mailboat would come back in time for her to jump back on. But, something odd happens when she accidentally falls into the lake and realizes she might be in trouble. Water could fill up her lungs and she might not get out. But, looking down deep under the water Bailey sees something horrific what starts the town off on a manhunt to find out who killed the man whose body she saw under the water? By mistiming the jump and seeing the body she starts a manhunt that leads back to before she was even born and the town will experience a past that those chose to forget. Even worse after she is pulled out of the water, taken to the hospital and home by Ryan the officer who as bike patrol, we learn about her stepfather who enjoys using her for his own sick pleasures. While Bailey is fighting off her stepfather, Ryan is thinking about her and seems to be concerned. This novel is told in many voices that of Bailey, Tommy, Monica who detective on the Ryan who was once married to her. Things spiral out of control as bullets fly in the street and Bailey just wants someone to care about her and consider her needs. But, that doesn’t seem to be the case and unfortunately she is in foster care and social workers do not always follow up to make sure that the children they place are in good and safe hands. Abused at home and bullets flying will she survive the summer?
The Police Chief Wade looks into the death and realizes that he knows who the dead man is and who his connections are as they begin their investigation. Added in Tommy seeks out Wade to investigate why Bailey has a black eye and claims that she fell during the accident at the lake but that is not true. We learn the name of the man who was found hanged under the water and his relationship with a man named Roland Markham who might have been looking for him but why?
Hearing Tommy speaks to wade and hoping that he will look into Bailey’s home life he decides to assign it to the summer officer Ryan. Going through files to learn more about her past is first as Wade and Monica search for the killer and the past comes tumbling forward. Wade killed Bobby who was Roland’s son and Jason, Tommy’s disappeared after both became thieves. Jason is gone and Tommy confronts Wade with his guilt and does not care if he is punished severely if found.
Things take a turn for the worst as Monica questions the wife of William Read who is really the man that was killed known as Fritz Geissler. When questioning his wife she was in complete denial and practically through Monica out as she refused to believe that her husband was involved in bank robberies thinking he was at a conference.
When Ryan questions Bud Weber about Bailey’s black eye things turn ugly and what he does to Bailey when he sees her lets readers know why foster care needs to be more closely monitored, children need to be checked on regularly and foster parents need to have background checks before handing over an innocent child. Bailey cowers when he attacks her and even though she did nothing to alert Ryan that he is abusing her this man is so evil and uncaring that Bailey now has to watch out for her life.
Tommy and Wade talk about the past as Tommy reflects on why he did not do more to help Bailey reporting that she had more bruises and welts on her arms. Sad but true that nothing might be done to help her escape the present and repair her future as we hear the voice of Jason, Tommy’s son. We learn about his past, his striving for perfection and how after a while he could not live up to his father’s standards or his own. Proud of his accomplishments yet veering toward Roland and Charlie turning to a life of crime. Hearing him talk to his mother ‘s grave and realizing that he did care for his parents the sad part is that now that he knows who killed Fritz and he’s caught in a web of murder, lies and deceit and cannot get out.
A chance meeting with someone changes it all for Tommy as he reflects on this relationship with Jason but sometimes circumstances require taking a hard line. Understanding that the young people that work for him on the cruise line have problems of their own often makes him wonder why he does not take more of a active part in their lives and try to help them sort out heir problems. Sometimes distance makes it easier when you fail to notice things right in front of you.
Bailey works for her stepfather as a waitress in his bar when a stranger comes in and leaves a large tip. Naïve, not really understanding why she chases after him and winds up in the wrong place at the wrong time which will change her life forever. An ending that is both tragic, powerful, sad and unfortunate as the author brings to light issues of abuse, neglect, betrayal, distrust, forgiveness, fear, the foster system and a young teen named Bailey that just wants a family of her own and to be loved. What is her fate? What happens that changes it all? What is the tragic ending? Find out when you read this outstanding novel by Danielle Lincoln Hanna and take the rides along with Bailey, hear her voice and find out if she will ever ride the MAILBOAT again.
Fran Lewis: Just reviews/MJ magazine