There are people who visit restaurants and order meat and potatoes. Others, look at the menu carefully and then order scallopine de vitello saltimboca. "Who Is Shayla Hacker" by Evan Kilgore is a novel meant for the second, more discriminating group.
There are a totally unconnected group of characters that Kilgore winds together like a master spider spinning a mysterious web.
Greg is a loner. No one ever calls him but then he gets a call from a young woman, a stranger, crying for help.
Jackie Savage is a high school student, stranded by her brother. When he doesn't show, she decides to find out what happened to him.
Terry Young is feeling boxed in by his upcoming marriage. He goes to his attic and looks at a photo that will haunt him for the rest of his life.
Det. Joe Malloy is retiring. He is asked by his replacement to tell him about the one case that still bothers him. He has her photo, but who is she?
Debbie Wendell is a construction worker. She finds a valuable jewelry box in an air duct at the airport. Who placed it there and what significance does it have?
Kilgore tells an intriguing story, with good characterization and crisp dialogue. Each character feels an obligation to find this missing Shayla at whatever cost. Others want to stop them, no matter what.
Characters appear and disappear. A man sits next to Debbie on an airplane, begins asking questions about the owner of the jewelry box and then disappears. Greg gets another call from the young woman and immediately, authorities want to know how he knows her and to stop trying to find her.
The story unwinds slowly and the book is hard to put down. The reader will feel both relief that the search has come to some conclusion and great joy at finding such a gem to experience.