The Wrong Girl (Jane Ryland Series #2)

The Wrong Girl (Jane Ryland Series #2)

4.3 14
by Hank Phillippi Ryan

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Award-winning and Boston Globe bestselling author Hank Phillippi Ryan presents a spine-chilling, heart-wrenching suspense novel that explores a terrifying scenario striking at the heart of every family.

Does a respected adoption agency have a frightening secret? Tipped off by a determined ex-colleague on a desperate quest to find her birth mother,

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Award-winning and Boston Globe bestselling author Hank Phillippi Ryan presents a spine-chilling, heart-wrenching suspense novel that explores a terrifying scenario striking at the heart of every family.

Does a respected adoption agency have a frightening secret? Tipped off by a determined ex-colleague on a desperate quest to find her birth mother, Boston newspaper reporter Jane Ryland begins to suspect that the agency is engaging in the ultimate betrayal--reuniting birth parents with the wrong children.

For detective Jake Brogan and his partner, a young woman's brutal murder seems a sadly predictable case of domestic violence, one that results in two toddlers being shuttled into the foster care system. Then Jake finds an empty cradle at the murder scene. Where is the baby who should have been sleeping there?

Jane and Jake are soon on a trail full of twists and turns that takes them deep into the heart of a foster care system in crisis and threatens to blow the lid off an adoption agency scandal. When the threatening phone calls start, Jane knows she is on the right track…but with both a killer at large and an infant missing, time is running out….

The Wrong Girl is a riveting novel of familial relationships--both known and unknown--vile greed, senseless murder, and the ultimate in deception. What if you didn't know the truth about your own family?

The Wrong Girl is the winner of the 2013 Agatha Award for best contemporary novel.

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
A strong theme compensates for a heavy reliance on coincidence in Ryan’s sequel to 2012’s The Other Woman, a Mary Higgins Clark Award winner. Tucker Cameron, a former colleague of reporter Jane Ryland’s at the Register, a Boston newspaper, asks for Jane’s help in determining how a private adoption agency, Brannigan Family and Children Services, managed to “reunite” her with the wrong birth mother. Meanwhile, an anonymous phone call leads Det. Jake Brogan and his partner, Det. Paul DeLuca, to a Roslindale apartment, where they find the body of a woman who’s suffered a fatal blow to the head, but no murder weapon accompanying it. Jane’s editor assigns her to cover the killing, setting the stage for a complex investigation. Ryan does a good job portraying the foster care and adoption systems, their shortcomings, abuses, and overpowering demands. Intriguing secondary characters, including an idealistic worker at Brannigan, support the well-matched Jane and Jake, whose romance continues to smolder. Author tour. Agent: Lisa Gallagher, Sanford J. Greenburger Associates. (Sept.)
From the Publisher

“Whip-smart writing and a dizzying pace make The Wrong Girl a thrilling, one-night read!” —Tess Gerritsen, New York Times bestselling author of Last to Die

“Hank Phillippi Ryan is a star.” —Joseph Finder, New York Times bestselling author, on The Other Woman

“Innocent bystanders beware! This series is off and running. You better hope you can catch up.” —Sue Grafton, New York Times bestselling author, on The Other Woman

“What a wonderful heroine! Anyone who loves smart, multi-dimensional characters will fall for Jane Ryland... It's a thrilling ride and thrilling read.” —Louise Penny, New York Times bestselling author, on The Other Woman

Library Journal
Ryan's stellar follow-up to The Other Woman throws Boston newspaper reporter Jane Ryland into a strange mystery. She hears the story of a former colleague, adopted as an infant, who used information provided by her adoption agency to find her birth mother, only to discover that the woman was not, in fact, her real mom. An investigation hints at a possible conspiracy with children reunited with the wrong parents. As this unfolds, a domestic violence case haunts Det. Jake Brogan. And though there is a crib at the crime scene, where is the baby? VERDICT Jane and Jake are engaging protagonists, and the will-they-or-won't-they tension will appeal to romance fans. The thrills are also abundant, and the plot takes a left turn when the reader is sure it's going right. Ryan has a gift for writing superb thrillers, and this one is sure to be a big hit with her growing fan base. [See Prepub Alert, 3/25/13.]—Jeff Ayers, Seattle P.L.
Kirkus Reviews
A young woman's murder, which orphans two children, gives a reporter a story she can't resist. Jane Ryland has finally settled into her role as reporter at the Register when her old co-worker Tuck approaches Jane about an off-the-clock investigation she'd like Jane to take on. Thanks to the people at Brannigan Family and Children Services, Tuck was recently reunited with her birth mother, but some details of the reunion have made Tuck suspicious that she may in fact be the wrong girl, matched with a mother who isn't her own. Jane's former and potentially future flame Detective Jake Brogan is saddled with another case that involves working with the child welfare system when he's called in to investigate a murder that leaves two children without a family. Getting wind of the case, Jane schemes to get information out of Jake, his partner, Detective DeLuca, and the staff at the Department of Family Services. Though most folks seem wise to Jane's tricks, she's sure she can find a weak link in the chain that will lead her to some clues to investigate. All this drama distracts Jane from Tuck's quest but doesn't stop some of the staff at the Brannigan from doing a bit of investigating of their own. Threads of the story are woven together in a net that threatens to ensnare Jane if she can't unravel them first. The complex storyline, which approaches child welfare from many different angles, provides Ryan (The Other Woman, 2012, etc.) with a plot that never allows the reader a moment of breathing room.

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Tom Doherty Associates
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Jane Ryland Series , #2
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“Listen, Jane. I don’t think she’s my real mother.”

Jane Ryland took the phone from her ear, peering at it as if it could somehow help Tuck’s incomprehensible tale make sense. Real mother? She didn’t know Tuck was adopted, let alone looking for her birth mother. Why would Tuck call her? And spill this soul-baring saga of abandonment, adoption agencies, then meeting some woman in Connecticut? Jane and Tuck were barely friends, let alone confidantes, especially after Tuck had—

The doorbell?

“I’m in your front lobby.” Tuck’s voice buzzed over the intercom at the same time it came through the phone. “Sorry to show up at your apartment on a Sunday, you know, but I couldn’t come to the Register, of course.”

Of course. It’d be humiliating for Tuck to visit Jane at the newspaper where they’d shared a cubicle as “news roomies” only months ago. Once a hotshot reporter, Tucker Cameron had been fired from the Register for sleeping with a source. The Boston Police public relations officer, of all dumb choices. In the months since, according to the nonstop newsroom gossip, the two pariahs, Tuck and Laney, had dropped off the map. Until now. But that was Tuck. Never a dull …

Jane pushed the red button in the intercom box, retied the drawstring on her fraying weekend sweatpants, and opened her front door, making sure Coda didn’t streak through her legs. The calico—a kitten, really—had arrived on the downstairs stoop a few weeks before, tiny paws icy with snow. All Humane Society intentions disappeared after the shivering fluff nuzzled into Jane’s shoulder, but neither of them was quite used to the other yet.

Jane heard the entry door click open, three flights down, and Tuck’s footsteps climbing the hardwood steps as she talked into her cell. “So what am I supposed to do now, roomie? I’m not a reporter anymore. No one will talk to me. Laney’s looking for a job. I’m like a—well, you’re the only one who can help me. The only one who was even nice to me. After.”

Tuck’s head appeared around the landing, a black knit cap over her dark ponytail. A puffy snow-flecked black parka emerged, then her black jeans. She paused, one leather glove grazing the mahogany banister, the other raised in tentative greeting. Tuck’s trademark swagger—her outta-my-way confidence—was missing.

“Tuck? You okay?” Just another February at Jane’s. First a stray kitten, and now—was Tuck crying? Tuck?

“I guess so.” Tuck stomped the last of the snow from her salt-stained boots, punched off her phone, stuffed it into her parka pocket. “I’m trying to be angry instead of miserable. But I can’t let this go.”

She swiped under her eyes with two gloved fingers, wiping away what could have been snow. “It’s my whole life, you know?”

“Tell me inside. Get warm. Dump your boots by the door.” Jane took Tuck’s soggy parka and cap, draped them over the banister, then ushered her visitor into the living room, pointing her to the taupe-striped wing chair by the bay window. Slushy snow pelted the glass, the wind clattering bare branches, the last of the afternoon’s feeble gray light struggling through. Coda slept on the couch, almost invisible, curled on a chocolate-and-cream paisley cushion.

“Tea? Beer? Wine?”

“Wine. Thanks. This has really kicked my ass.” Tuck plopped into the chair, then twisted one leg around the other. “The lawyer I contacted at first was worthless, then the agency got my hopes up, but now, well, this is worse than not knowing. Which is why I’m here.”

Which made no sense whatsoever.

They’d been office mates for only about two weeks. Jane was dayside, covering politics. Tuck worked the night shift, seemed to care only about her sensational front-page Bridge Killer stories. Their paths crossed only when their stories did. Now for some reason Tuck seemed to think she needed Jane’s help, so here she was. That was Tuck.

“Hang on a sec, let me get you a glass.” Jane padded to the kitchen, grabbed the wine from the fridge, twisted it open. What would it feel like, not to know your own mother? As a kid, she’d thrown around adoption like a threat. “When my REAL mother comes to get me, you’ll be sorry,” a petulant eight-year-old Jane taunted her parents. She and BFF Laurie, slumber-party faces smeared in beauty goo, speculated in late-night whispers whether Jane’s chestnut hair and hazel eyes meant she might really be adopted, might really be royalty or Bono’s girlfriend’s abandoned daughter.

Jane did know what being fired felt like. It happened to her last summer and the sting hadn’t quite gone away. So if Tuck needed her for something? She held out the glass and sat cross-legged on the couch. Least she could do was pour some wine and listen. “Okay, all ears.”

With Coda’s purr a rumbling underscore, Tuck spilled the details.

Jane’s reporter training switched into gear, assessing what could be wrong, or a coincidence, or a mistake. She ticked off her questions, finger to finger, as she did with every story she covered.

“So back at the beginning. You called the agency. Your mother told you which one?”

“Yes. ‘The Brannigan,’ they call it. Brannigan Family and Children Services. Ten years ago, when I first called, they told me all the records were sealed until my birth mother gave the okay to open them. A closed adoption, you know? Then I guess I tried to forget about it. I mean, I was eighteen, she might have been dead. Plus, I knew my mom—adoptive mother—wouldn’t love that I was looking.”

Tuck paused, rolled her eyes.. “She’d have said, in that snarky voice she uses, ‘Why do you need another mother, Tucker dear? Am I not enough for you?’” She shrugged. “She’d probably still say that, even in her … condition. But she lives in Florida, she stayed in their condo thing after Dad died. So she’ll never know.”

“Condition? She’s…?” Jane searched for a way to ask. She missed her own mother every day. Poor Tuck.

“Yeah. Doctors say it won’t be long, and ah, I don’t know. I’m trying to deal with that, too. It’s hard.” She puffed out a breath, shook her head. “Anyway. Last week, after all that time, the Brannigan called to say they’d found my birth mother. It felt perfect, you know? With me and Laney serious, thinking of kids, and the last of my adoptive family almost gone? But now…” Tuck pulled the stretchy band from her ponytail, then twisted it back on. Took a sip of wine, carefully replaced her glass on the coaster.

She looked at Jane. “But now, even though I’m not at the paper anymore, I think I may be on to the story of my life.”


Copyright © 2013 by Hank Phillippi Ryan

Meet the Author

HANK PHILLIPPI RYAN is the investigative reporter for Boston's NBC affiliate, and has won twenty-eight Emmys and ten Edward R. Murrow awards. A Boston Globe bestselling author, Ryan has won the Agatha, Anthony, and Macavity awards. She's on the national board of directors of Mystery Writers of America and Sisters in Crime.

HANK PHILLIPPI RYAN is the on-air investigative reporter for Boston's NBC affiliate. She's won 32 EMMYs, 12 Edward R. Murrow awards and dozens of other honors for her ground-breaking journalism.

A bestselling author of more than half a dozen mystery novels, Ryan has won multiple prestigious awards for her crime fiction: the Agatha, Anthony, Macavity, and for THE OTHER WOMAN, the coveted Mary Higgins Clark Award. National reviews have called her a "master at crafting suspenseful mysteries" and "a superb and gifted storyteller." THE WRONG GIRL had the extraordinary honor of winning the 2013 Agatha Award for Best Contemporary Novel and the Daphne du Maurier award for Excellence in Mystery/Suspense for Mainstream?! A six-week Boston Globe bestseller, it was dubbed "Another winner" in a Booklist starred review and "Stellar" by Library Journal.

She's on the national board of Mystery Writers of America and 2013 president of national Sisters in Crime. Her recent novel TRUTH BE TOLD is a Library Journal Editor's Pick.

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