“‘I don’t understand. I’m nobody. I’m not rich or famous or influential. I’m only a teacher. I don’t even have tenure.’”
John and Merle Wright arrive home from a movie to find the babysitter brutally murdered, and their 16-month old daughter missing. The only clue is the babysitter. Paula Aherne. A student at the local college, well-liked by the Wrights and wonderful with the baby. The investigation uncovers everything Paula told the Wrights to be a lie. She wasn’t enrolled at the school. Her childhood stories are false. And her name isn’t Paula.
The police investigation is empty, and two unscrupulous feds manipulate it for their own ends. The Wrights take matters into their own hands and start an amateurish investigation. An investigation that leads them into Paula’s past, and a lineup of unsavory characters.
The Babysitter is wholly original. Its setup is straight mystery—a murder, a kidnapping, a police investigation—but it unravels in unexpected ways. It is unsolvable by the reader and more suspense than mystery. The characters, excepting the Wrights, are secretive and frightening in a recognizable and common form. Everyone has a secret. It is nightmarishly real to a suburban audience in a bleak and satisfying manner.
The Babysitter was originally published in 1979, and it has new life with its recent Stark House Press trade paperback edition.