Published: June 28, 2016
It’s been ten years since Nicolette Farrell left her rural hometown after her best friend, Corinne, disappeared from Cooley Ridge without a trace. Back again to tie up loose ends and care for her ailing father, Nic is soon plunged into a shocking drama that reawakens Corinne’s case and breaks open old wounds long since stitched.
The decade-old investigation focused on Nic, her brother Daniel, boyfriend Tyler, and Corinne’s boyfriend Jackson. Since then, only Nic has left Cooley Ridge. Daniel and his wife, Laura, are expecting a baby; Jackson works at the town bar; and Tyler is dating Annaleise Carter, Nic’s younger neighbor and the group’s alibi the night Corinne disappeared. Then, within days of Nic’s return, Annaleise goes missing.
Told backwards—Day 15 to Day 1—from the time Annaleise goes missing, Nic works to unravel the truth about her younger neighbor’s disappearance, revealing shocking truths about her friends, her family, and what really happened to Corinne that night ten years ago.
Like nothing you’ve ever read before, All the Missing Girls delivers in all the right ways. With twists and turns that lead down dark alleys and dead ends, you may think you’re walking a familiar path, but then Megan Miranda turns it all upside down and inside out and leaves us wondering just how far we would be willing to go to protect those we love.
There’s been a trend in mystery fiction lately of deliciously twisty psychological thrillers featuring women in roles that mysteries don’t usually afford them. It’s been called The Gone Girl effect, and how these thrillers set up a traditional mystery scenario. A woman (usually respectable and middle class) is missing or dead. We presume she is the victim. Then the author takes all our usual assumptions shakes them up in a hat, hits us in the face with them, and then tosses them out the window.
Sometimes the women in these books are a victim; sometimes they’re the killer. Sometimes they’re both. But they are always complicated characters who refuse to be reduced to a pretty face on a reward poster. They can be cunning, manipulative, evil, mentally ill or just plain badass. and they are never reliable as narrators.
The book opens with Nicolette Farrell coming back home to small town Cooley Ridge in order to pack up her father’s house. Her father has dementia and is in a nursing home, and Nic and her brother Daniel need to sell his house in order to pay for his care. After she turned eighteen Nic skipped town in the middle of the night and left her friends and boyfriend, Tyler.She left Cooley Ridge and a cloud of suspicion behind. One of her friends, Corinne Prescott, disappeared and the rumors and allegations nearly tore the town apart. Corinne was last seen at a fair with Nic, Tyler, and Daniel, making them prime suspects.
Now it’s ten years later, and Corinne still hasn’t been found. Nic’s father, in and out of lucidity, starts talking, telling people he knows what happened to that girl. It starts the suspicion dust-storm up again and then another woman, Annaliese, goes missing–the woman who was Nic, Daniel and Tyler’s alibi that day, ten years ago.
The author employs an interesting strategy of telling the story BACKWARDS We start with day 14 after Annaliese goes missing, the next chapter is day 13, etc. So the crisis point of the book is actually the day of the disappearance. As the narrative unfolds the reader understands that something cataclysmic happened the day Annaliese vanished, but we don’t know what. We’re left to weave in loose ends–off the cuff remarks from other characters, suspicions, gossip, and Nic’s actions which make little sense. Nic is sleep deprived, not eating, struggling to navigate in a community where she’s under everyone’s watchful eye. As she tells us the story of the past, of the day Corinne vanished, we also start uncovering snippets of the present day mystery.
At first I wasn’t sure the “telling the story backwards” thing made a ton of sense, but then as the mystery unraveled I realized how beautifully it worked. When I finished the book I was left with an OMG moment where everything fell into place PERFECTLY!
If you’re a GONE GIRL genre junkie please add this book to your “to be read” list. And, if you’ve never tried an audio book, this one would be perfect, because the narrator does a fantastic job.
*If you’re wondering my there is a ferris wheel on the cover-you’ll have to read the book to find out!