One of the strategies I use to find books is to browse the book reviews in magazines. If the review or snippet they provide sounds interesting enough I put the book on my wish list and eventually get to it later, after I’ve forgotten what it’s even about. So when I picked up Megan Miranda’s All the Missing Girls I didn’t know what I was in for.
In the wake of books like Gone Girl and Girl on the Train a lot of people are pushing the murder mystery genre. There has been this new subsection that’s been hyped up since the fame of Gone Girl. Not only does the woman have to be missing and/or dead but we also have to find out all her dirty little secrets. She has to come from a pretty good family, in a pretty good neighborhood, with amazing looks and everything going for her. Then we have to find out she was a pretty piece of shit person. This is the same book.
I’d like to start off by saying I’m not a huge fan of murder mystery. I’m a scaredy cat and I hate gore so this is just not my preferred reading material. Take what I say with a grain of salt I guess.
I didn’t overall enjoy this book. I enjoyed parts of it but not as a whole production of literature. I probably won’t recommend it off the top of my head and I probably won’t reread it. But who knows. Things change.
My first issue was the layout of the timeline. The book starts off seeing the main character, Nicolette Farrell, leaving the big city to go back to her small home town in Cooley Ridge. The only reasons we are given for her going back is a mysterious one line letter from her father who is presumably mentally ill and a voicemail from her brother asking her to come home. She gets home leaving her big city, rich, handsome, attention commanding, attorney, fiance who has never met any of her family because he just wouldn’t understand them and immediately finds out:
- Her brother, Daniel, wants to sell her family home and needs her help to convince their mentally ill father to sell it.
- She also needs to help clean out and fix the home to prepare it for selling.
- Her best friend went missing years ago and she doesn’t go back home because of all the memories, like pictures on her walls. Said pictures are missing.
- Her ex-boyfriend, Tyler, who also happens to be a contractor will be helping with the house renovations.
- Said ex is dating the younger girl, Annaliese, they all went to high school with and who also lives behind their house. Past the creepy woods of course.
The next chapter jumps us 15 days in the future where we learn:
- Annaliese is missing and possibly dead.
- Nicolette’s fiance is just leaving the house and heading back to the city.
- Tyler comes through the back door in muddy boots as police sirens storm on in the distance after the fiance leaves.
- Daniel calls asking her where she was and who she is with and once he know’s that Tyler is there he tells Nicolette to get out of the house immediately. AH!
So, what happened in those 15 days? Well, this book tells you. Slowly. Going from day 14 backwards until day 1 and then back again to day 15 to piece it all back together. In some points this works beautifully and I loved this idea but in other places it doesn’t work at all. There is just some information that if Nicolette would have found this out on day 7 I questioned her judgement and actions on day 12.
Overall the book centers around three character’s and their relationship since high school and now as adults. Their involvement with their friend who disappeared in high school and was never found. Their unwillingness to speak about serious matters. And now their connection to this new girl who has gone missing.
What I did love is Miranda’s way of describing a real woman. Flawed, projecting insecurities, and beautifully complicated. We never get to see the missing girls through their own eyes and in their own opinions in this book. So everything we know is subjective and raw and open to opinion. None of the women in this book are props; they are all headliners. They are all central to the plot. So much so that even the woman detective from years ago is packed with emotions.
Overall this book is a quick and easy read. It does have you thinking and I don’t think the ending is overtly obvious. I’d say give it a shot if you have some time and let me know what your opinions are.