Dear Amy
PublisherMichael Joseph
Date Published16 June 2016
Price£ 12.99

Dear Amy

by Helen Callaghan

Margot Lewis is a schoolteacher and newspaper agony aunt. She starts getting letters from a girl who’s been kidnapped – except, she disappeared 20 years ago.


Margot Lewis has had a chequered past. But she’s now a schoolteacher in Cambridge, and her sound commonsense with the pupils has brought her the extra gig of agony aunt in the local paper.

Katie Browne, a pupil at Margot’s school, goes missing, and Margot is convinced she wouldn’t run away. And then she starts getting letters from a girl called Bethan Avery, who has been kidnapped by a strange man and is in fear of her life. Except, Bethan disappeared 20 years ago.

The police assume the letters are from a crank, but Margot is determined to prove otherwise, and ends up being helped by Martin Forrester, an academic and crime data expert. But as they try to find the link between the two missing girls, Margot’s past comes back to haunt her.

Dear Amy may require you to suspend your disbelief at times. Some of the police scenes and characters don’t always convince, and the press coverage is bizarrely well in the background – Margot’s paper would have been all over their exclusive like a rash. Instead, they’re barely mentioned. And Martin is not the most convincing of characters; his purpose in life seems to be as a potential love interest for Margot.

It’s not a comfortable book, particularly some of the scenes with Margot’s manipulative estranged husband. But it’s a thoroughly engrossing read, and high on atmosphere when it comes to Cambridge and the Fens. Margot is substantially more than the hackneyed unreliable narrator. Her past has left her vulnerable, but she’s tenacious and determined to do what’s right for the missing girls.

Mental health issues are a key part of the book, but it’s difficult to say much without giving away too much of the plot. Your mileage may vary as to whether you’re convinced by the way they’re portrayed. I thought Callaghan got away with it – just!

Reviewed 09 July 2016 by Sharon Wheeler