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In this spare page-turner, Richmond (Dream of the Blue Room) draws complex tensions from a the set setup of a child gone missing. Photographer Abby Mason stops on San Francisco's Ocean Beach with her fiancé Jake's six-year-old daughter, Emma, to photograph a seal pup; by the time Abby looks up, Emma has disappeared. Abby, who narrates, flashes back to her growing relationship with high school teacherJake, and sketches its transformation over the course of the search. Emma's mother, Lisbeth (who abandoned the family three years earlier), wants back into Jake's life—even as he is giving up hope on finding Emma. Abby delves into the bereft missing children subculture and into the vagaries of memory. A hypnotist helps Abby unearth promising details of that singular last day with Emma, but the information requires major follow-through from Abby. The book's twist on missing child stories is wholly effective. Richmond develops the principle characters, and Abby's dysfunctional parents make for sharply drawn secondaries, as do local surfers. The book is beautifully paced—one feels Abby's clarity of purpose from the first page. The sure-handed denouement reflects the focus and restraint that Richmond brings to bear throughout. (Mar.)Copyright 2006 Reed Business Information.