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I remember reading this novel about 5-6 years ago, I think maybe as a recent release at the time.

A woman is found wandering, dazed, having escaped from her crashed car. She claims she had to leave her daughter behind, and a massive search starts until they get ahold of the woman's husband, who informs the police that they don't have a daughter. I don't remember who is doing the investigation (whether it was the woman, a police detective, or just a general inspector), but the bulk of the book is about trying to figure out why this woman was convinced there was a child.

I remember there being a plot point about them tracing the woman having bought alcohol on the day of the crash from a store in a town far from where she lived, and the name and description of the "missing" girl matching a missing girl from some decades ago. The husband does some sort of woodworking that requires him to have a building separate from the house and he travels a lot.

I do remember the resolution of the book:

The woman was prostituted as a child, along with the girl who was a missing person. I think the girls were referred to as "dolls", and maybe the location as the "dollhouse"? Her husband was a laborer at the house who she fell in love with. The girl escaped because her friend died, and her husband smuggled her out as that girl's dead body (I think wrapped up in a rug). I remember there being a twist involving her name, and switching with the other girl. I don't remember if it was intentional on her part to have the accident to reveal her past or if she had a break.

Under random bits of info, I think the woman was blond, and her husband disappears about halfway into the book, putting her under suspicion by the police. I think there's also a scene where the family of the missing girl is interviewed.

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Crash & Burn (2015), third book of the Tessa Leoni series by Lisa Gardner.

From Goodreads:

My name is Nicky Frank. Except, most likely, it isn’t.

Nicole Frank shouldn’t have been able to survive the car accident, much less crawl up the steep ravine. Not in the dark, not in the rain, not with her injuries. But one thought allows her to defy the odds and flag down help: Vero.

I’m looking for a little girl. I have to save her. Except, most likely, she doesn’t exist.

Sergeant Wyatt Foster is frustrated when even the search dogs can’t find any trace of the mysterious missing child. Until Nicky’s husband, Thomas, arrives with a host of shattering revelations: Nicole Frank suffers from a rare brain injury and the police shouldn’t trust anything she says.

My husband claims he’ll do anything to save me. Except, most likely, he can’t.

Who is Nicky Frank, and what happened the night her car sailed off the road? Was it a random accident or something more sinister given the woman’s lack of family and no close friends? The deeper Wyatt digs, the more concerned he becomes. Because it turns out, in the past few months, Nicky has suffered from more than one close accident. . . . In fact, it would appear someone very much wants her dead.

One of the reviews mentions:

a dollhouse (women and children trafficking/prostitution) theme similar to Taylor Stevens' The Doll


Found with the Google query mystery book car crash missing child prostitute site:goodreads.com/book.

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  • This is indeed the correct story. Reading through the reviews confirms it. Thank you! I didn't even know it was part of a series. – Sean Duggan Dec 10 '20 at 23:01

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