Local Girl Missing by Claire Douglas
eBook review copy; 352 pages
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
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.
My review copy was courtesy of HarperCollins.