Fear surrounds Albuquerque, New Mexico, after several teenage girls and young women disappear with no clue as to what has happened to them. After a body is found, Detective Alyssa Wyatt finds herself desperately trying to uncover what is happening, especially when the friend of her daughter goes missing. With no apparent link between the victims, Wyatt and her partner Cord, find themselves involved in an investigation into criminals much more depraved than they could ever have imagined. Can they locate the girls before they suffer the same fate as the murdered girl?

One of my favourite books of last year was this author’s debut, All His Pretty Girls, the first book in the Alyssa Wyatt series. As someone who doesn’t tend to read many books set in the US, this one completely blew me away and I  couldn’t wait to read the next in the series. I wondered how Charly Cox would be able to live up to the standard of her first book and I am so pleased to say that she has managed it with ease!

The subject matter is not for the faint of heart, dealing with the horrendous crimes of sex trafficking and physical abuse. This is so well written, however, that the author does not actually need to describe the extent of the suffering that these young women are having to endure as enough is implied so that you know what is happening without actually having to read it. This is, I feel, more powerful than seeing the events written down in front of you as your imagination can fill in the gaps, leaving you feeling nothing but horror about what is unfolding before your eyes. These women were incredibly brave despite their circumstances and I found myself desperately hoping that they would be freed from the predicament without anything even more horrendous happening to them.

One word of caution I will give with The Toybox is that there are spoilers aplenty about the previous installment, to the point that some pretty major twists are revealed. The events in All His Pretty Girls have definitely helped to shape Alyssa and some of her actions and feelings can be explained by what has gone before. Alyssa is a great character with a stable family life and a partner who she trusts implicitly. This is something that is often missing in other police procedurals so I really like how we can focus on the investigation rather than on the private life of the detective.

This really is a superb series and I can’t recommend it highly enough. If you are looking for a gritty police procedural with believable characters and a gripping plot, then The Toybox may just be the book for you.

With thanks to Sarah Hardy at Book on the Bright Side for organising the blog tour and to Hera Books and Net Galley for my ARC.