Mystery Books for Sale

[ Home ]
[ About | Reviews | Search | Submit ]


by Dervla McTiernan
William Morrow, March 2024
322 pages
ISBN: 0063042258

Buy in the UK | Buy in Canada

When a college student goes missing while vacationing with her boyfriend, her family and the boyfriend's parents have their lives and relationships turned upside down.

Nina has been dating Simon since they were sixteen. When they go away for a weekend, rock climbing and hiking on land near a vacation cabin belonging to Simon's parents, only Simon returns home. Simon says they broke up; she's probably nursing her hard feelings, or perhaps went off with another man. Nina's mother, Leanne, is sure Nina wouldn't disappear without telling anyone, and makes the first of several desperate moves to find out what happened to her daughter.

Told in alternating viewpoints, starting with Nina's, this tense and absorbing story delves deeply into the perspectives of Leanne, her husband, their younger daughter, and Simon's wealthy parents, as well as the actions taken by a detective who increasingly suspects foul play. We know from Nina's opening statement that her relationship with Simon had grown toxic, and it isn't too long before it's clear what happened to her. The ratcheting tension comes from watching each character change as they come to terms with it.

The title of the book suggests the story will focus on a mystery to be solved. What actually happened to Nina? In fact, it's all about how the characters change in response to her disappearance. Leanne, who seems tough and hard-headed, finds herself ambushed and undone by emotion. Simon's mother Jamie, a trophy wife who plays the role to perfection but has been secretly selling off her luxury clothing to prepare for the moment when her rich husband trades her in for a younger model, discovers she is not as cynical as she thought. All of the characters are complex, evolving as they hand off the narration. Though the question starts with “what happened?” the answers we get in the end have to do with how far parents will go for their children.

Though focused on the changes that characters go through, McTiernan has constructed a plot that keeps the action moving at a fast clip. With a detective in the chorus of distinctive voices, we learn how the investigation is proceeding. We also see how social media and its voracious appetite for spectacle turns a family tragedy into a form of competetive attention-seeking, turning a tragedy into interactive entertainment.

But most of all, we experience the unfolding emotional lives of parents faced with a sudden rupture in their family life. It's tightly-plotted, nuanced, and rewarding right up to the unsettling end.

§ Barbara Fister is an academic librarian, columnist, and author of the Anni Koskinen mystery series.

Reviewed by Barbara Fister, February 2024

[ Top ]



Contact: Yvonne Klein (ymk@reviewingtheevidence.com)

[ About | Reviews | Search | Submit ]
[ Home ]