Listen: The Treatment by Mo Hayder, 2001, Overdrive.com download.
That was a very tough listen. Hayder really drags you through some despicable child sexual assault and abuse. Horrible, predatory people doing horrible things to young children. I seriously considered quitting the book. I do commend Hayder for not toning down the story. Heck, maybe she did tone it down. Maybe she heard some real life stories and details that were even worse.
Jack Caffery arrives on scene at a home invasion. The invader broke into the home of the Peach family and bound and beat the wife and husband. Both parents were captive for about five days and are taken to the hospital suffering dehydration, the man is near death. The Peach's 9-year-old son is missing. Their Brixton house abuts a large,
wooded London park and a witness saw someone run into the park. A
massive search begins to find the boy.
The police canvass the neighborhood and nearby apartment blocks. A search helicopter's infrared camera operator spots a donut shaped figure in the park. Walking searchers see zip. The boy remains missing. Days pass and Inspector Caffery hears the neighborhood children's urban myth about a tree troll. Caffery goes back to the spot located by the helicopter and looks up. The missing boy has recently died from exposure and dehydration.
This is the wrong case for Caffery. Caffery's older brother, Ewan, was nine-years-old when he disappeared. Caffery still lives in the family home and about 50 yards from the house of the convicted pedophile long suspected of killing Ewan, Penderecki. A murdered nine-year-old with his killer on the loose puts Caffery on a very fine edge and Caffery gets obsessive.
Things happen. Another family are the first to move into a new housing development near the same London park. They are planning a long vacation. The mother discovers urine spots in the house and blames the dog, then her 9-year-old son. She smells rotting food. These same things happened to the Peaches.
Penderecki commits suicide. Penderecki had been tormenting Caffery for years by sending anonymous notes detailing possible scenarios for Ewans disappearance. Caffery gets one last letter in the mail showing a map. Caffery follows the map and finds a hidden child porn stash. Caffery starts investigating.
Other things happen: Caffery and his girlfriend Rebecca are at emotional ends from the last novel. Caffery wants to talk about her abduction, Rebecca recalls nothing of it and cannot tell him that. Caffery uses the child abuse stash to track people down.
Hayder cranks up the tension as Caffery works the Peach case and comes oh-so-close to learning that another family has been abducted. The new victims are secretly suffering sadistic sex slavery. We learn of child rape, beatings, bitings, kidnappings, a pedophile ring, and the sexual abuse of a brain damaged child who is then turned into a work slave. Horrible sociopathic villains concerned for themselves and full of excuses. None of them get the punishment they deserve or the full punishment the law can give.