Wednesday, February 26, 2020

The Sea of Lost Girls

The Sea of Lost Girls by Carol Goodman
HarperCollins: 3/3/20
eBook review copy; 320 pages
ISBN-13: 9780062852021

The Sea of Lost Girls by Carol Goodman is a highly recommended novel of suspense set at a boarding school on the Maine coast.

Tess and Harmon Henshaw both teach at Haywood, a boarding school on the Maine coast. Her seventeen-year-old son, Rudy, is a student at Haywood who lives on campus in a dorm. When Tess receives a text from Rudy at three in the morning asking her to come and get him, she knows something is terribly wrong. The opening night of the school play was that night and Rudy had a lead in the school play. When he should be celebrating with his classmates, he is instead wet and hiding in his safe place by the beach waiting for his mom to get him. He had a fight with his girlfriend Lila earlier in the week. Rudy has had problems with anger in the past and Tess is very concerned about him.

Four hours later, Tess gets a phone call from the Haywood school headmistress who tells her that Lila, Rudy’s girlfriend, was found dead on the beach, not far from Rudy's safe place. When the police show up at their front door, Tess is immediately protective of Rudy, concerned that they want to talk to him, but her husband, Harmon, is a person of interest too. What complicates the situation is that Tess is hiding things from her past and wants to keep them a secret. Soon it becomes clear that secrets are not going to stay hidden and more may be going on than Tess knows.

Tess is not only hiding secrets from her past, she is an over protective mother who is trying to control Rudy and how he is viewed, as well as her secrets. She doesn't even grasp as soon as she should that the police are interested in Harmon more than Rudy. Tess is an unreliable narrator, and, quite frankly, can begin to grate on your nerves after a while. It's not just Tess, though. There really isn't a likeable character that doesn't become annoying as the plot progresses. A whiny teen and husband doesn't help you feel support for anyone. Basically, don't expect to like anyone in this novel, but they are all well-developed characters.

Goodman does an excellent job in the presentation. The writing is skillful, with a plot that is entertaining, complex, and twisty enough to grab your attention. The revelation of secrets and lies that have been concealed, as will the eventual disclosure of Tess's backstory, is engrossing.  The secrets and reveals just keep coming, with twisty little revelations emerging one after another. While readers might guess the final culprit long before the denouement, it is an entertaining journey full of suspense getting to the end.

Disclosure: My review copy was courtesy of HarperCollins.

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