The Girls Who Disappeared by Claire Douglas
9/15/22; 392 pages
The Girls Who Disappeared by Claire Douglas is a highly recommended mystery of domestic deceit.
Twenty years ago four young women were traveling along a rural Wilshire highway called the Devil’s Corridor when a car accident occurred. One girl, Olivia, the driver is trapped behind the wheel of the car. The other three disappeared and have never been found or heard from again. Journalist Jenna Halliday has traveled to Wilshire for the twentieth anniversary of the disappearance of the girls. She is going to take a new look at the mystery for a podcast and hopefully interview people who remember the case, including Olivia, and uncover new information.
The premise and opening of this novel is immediately intriguing and I was hooked. The narrative is intense and the suspense builds immediately. Clearly someone doesn't want the story of the missing girls looked into and it is made clear that Jenna isn't welcome. However, she persists and the intrigue builds as she slowly uncovers information. There are also plenty of rumors that the Devil's Corridor is haunted and Jenna begins to become a believer. It is especially helpful when she establishes a good working relationship with a detective, Dale, who is interested in reopening the case.
The characters are interesting and varied. Not all of them are likable, they are interesting, but neither really matters in this plot. The narrative alternates between Jenna and Olivia's point-of-view, as well as what seems an incongruous account of an earlier group of friends on a vacation in Thailand.
The story is multi-layered and the suspects keep changing. The pace is a bit uneven, but the mystery of what happened appears to be leading to hidden secrets and lies. It's always enjoyable to read cat and mouse mysteries where you are trying to figure out who is lying and what is actually happening behind the scenes based on scant clues you have to decipher and The Girls Who Disappeared fits that description neatly. An added bonus is the twists at the end.