Thursday, July 13, 2017

Local Girl Missing

Local Girl Missing by Claire Douglas
HarperCollins: 7/4/17
eBook review copy; 352 pages
ISBN-13: 9780062661159

Local Girl Missing by Claire Douglas is a recommended mystery about the past catching up with the present.

Sophie Collier disappeared in 1997, eighteen years ago, off the old, decaying pier at Oldcliffe-on-Sea. Her body was never found, but she did leave one of her shoes behind. Her best friend Frankie Howe (now Francesca Bloom) and her brother Daniel talked to the police at the time but no one could piece together what happened and why Sophie was on the pier that night. Now a foot that survived intact covered by a shoe has washed up on shore and is thought to be Sophie's remains. Daniel calls Frankie, who is now living in London, to come back to Oldcliffe while the remains are identified and to help him try to piece together again what happened that night. He believes this will give them both closure.

Daniel arranges a rental apartment that overlooks the pier, which Frankie finds disturbing. He wants Frankie to go with him to talk to some of the people who were at the nightclub the night Sophie disappeared. Did Sophie have a fight with her boyfriend or was she meeting someone else? He is hoping that someone saw something or is willing to provide new information after all these years. 

Frankie is unsettled by the rental where it seems that someone is entering it when she is gone and she is losing sleep because a baby is crying in one of the units nightly. The rental is always cold; the fire is hard-pressed to stay lit and it is the middle of winter. Even more disturbing is that Frankie seems to be seeing Sophie's ghost and someone is leaving threatening notes at her doorstep.

The narrative alternates from Frankie's point of view in the present to Sophie's from the past, in 1997. The information in the two narratives don't always correspond to each other. The two share a big secret, but Sophie has many things she hasn't shared with Frankie, and Frankie has also kept some things secret from Sophie. It is apparent that there is more going on than we realize and that Frankie might not be the most reliable narrator.

This is a secret-laden novel where more is going on and has happened than meets the eye. The writing was good. There are some twists you will easily guess or suspect and perhaps one you won't. For a successful business woman, Frankie seems a little too easily rattled, needy, and over emotional. She's also missing the effervescent sparkling personality she is reputed to have and comes across as whiny.  Douglas gives us the creepy feeling that everyone in town knows that Frankie is back, but never makes excellent use of this feeling once she establishes it. This is a satisfying novel and the ending is good, if not totally believable. This is a good choice for a summer beach read by an old pier, especially if there are plenty of drunk twenty-somethings hanging out on it.

Disclosure: My review copy was courtesy of HarperCollins.

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