7/6/21; 336 pages
Penguin Publishing Group
The Lost Girls by Jessica Chiarella is a recommended psychological thriller.
Twenty years ago when Marti Reese was eight-years-old, her teenage
sister Maggie got into a car and disappeared. Since that time Marti has
been searching for her sister. When the true crime podcast about the
case and her search wins her an award, it also propels her Maggie's case
back into the news, which results in people contacting her. A woman,
Dr. Ava Vreeland ,
contacts her with information that might have a tie to Maggie's case.
It involves a young woman, Sarah Ketchum, who disappeared in the same
area as the Reese family home and the similarities between the two
cases. The only problem is that Ava's brother, Colin McCarty, was
convicted for Sarah's murder, but Ava knows he is innocent. Marti sets
off to tell Ava's story on her podcast in a search for the truth about
Sarah's murder, which seems to have ties to Maggie's case.
Marti, as a character, is highly driven in her search for her sister but she also has self-destructive tendencies which are clearly displayed in the plot. You will have sympathy for her and her obsession with finding her sister while drinking too much, sabotaging her marriage, and making poor choices. She really is a tortured soul who needs some counseling. This makes her ripe for jumping on the information Ava provides her and using the case for the next season of their podcast. Personally, I actually didn't trust any of these characters because they all seemed self-serving.
This twisty case is compelling, however, you need to get through the
opening pages which set up the story. After that the novel is fast-paced
and will keep you reading to reach the shocking conclusion. I did successfully predict a major part of the plot, but there were still several surprises.
This is a novel almost written for true crime podcast enthusiasts. Alas,
I'm not one, but it is a very good psychological thriller. I was unsure
about the slam near the beginning over other online talks shows. It's
always best to keep the focus about your book.