Save Me by Lisa Scottoline.*
About a month ago on Crime Fiction Collective, I wrote a review of two books that shared the theme of bullying. More recently, I read Lisa Scottoline's latest book and wished I could have included it in that review.
Rose McKenna's eight-year-old daughter Melly was born with a facial birthmark, a wine-colored blotch on her left cheek. They've already had to move once because of the way Melly was treated at school. When she tells her mother that it's happening again, Rose volunteers in the school cafeteria to keep an eye on her.
When she sees her classmate Amanda putting jelly on her face in mockery of the birthmark, Melly runs to the girls' room to hide. Rose begins to chastise Amanda, but is interrupted by an explosion which knocks her momentarily unconscious. When she comes to, she leads Amanda and her two friends to the exit before turning back to find Melly.
Rose does get her daughter out of the building, but then learns that Amanda isn't with the other girls, having apparently gone back inside for something. Melly is taken to the hospital, treated for smoke inhalation and sent home a few days later. Amanda remains unconscious for some time.
Amanda's mother and many of the other locals blame Rose for not making sure that Amanda was out before she went back for her own daughter, and Rose learns how ostracized Melly has felt all her life. Rose decides that the only way to fix the situation is to figure out what caused the explosion and track the resulting events, a decision that causes her to realize who she is and what she's really capable of.
Unlike the heroines of the Rosato and Associates series, the protagonist of this stand-alone is not a lawyer (though her husband is), but an ex-model, so her investigative skills are definitely those of an amateur. But she somehow manages to ask the right questions of the right people in her quest to find out what really happened.
This is a quick read, with cliff-hanger chapter endings that keep the reader hooked. The ending is perhaps a little pat, but essentially satisfying.
*FTC Full Disclosure: I received this book through the LibraryThing Early Reviewers program.