Tuesday, April 23, 2024

The Return of Ellie Black

The Return of Ellie Black by Emiko Jean
5/7/24; 320 pages
Simon & Schuster

The Return of Ellie Black by Emiko Jean is a highly recommended psychological thriller/procedural/crime novel.

Teenager Ellie Black has been found alive in the woods of Washington State after disappearing two years ago from the small town of Coldwell Beach. Detective Chelsey Calhoun is assigned the case and immediately begins to work with Ellie and her family and question everyone involved in the case previously. Ellie, who was a teen who was pushing all the boundaries before she was taken, has returned a seriously traumatized, damaged young woman. Chelsey's sister Lydia was presumed dead fifteen years earlier, so she has empathy with families of missing girls and wants others to find the closure they need.

The narrative unfolds through multiple perspectives. Mainly it is told from Chelsey's point-of-view, but Ellie's point-of-view is presented in separate sections inserted within the chapters. Ellie's therapist also has some separate sections. Chelsey's chapters examine her investigation, her relationship with her husband, Noah, and her background. Ellie's point-of-view details the events during her horrific captivity. Using multiple perspectives results in the two main characters being sympathetic characters who are portrayed in a realistic manner.

The writing is good. There are a few sections where it flags a bit, but once the action picks up and the twists begin, the pages do fly by. I will say that more than once as I was reading I paused and thought, "Wait. Haven't I read that in another novel?" Some similarities to other novels with missing girls would be obvious, but this was more some of the details, the supporting material.

The ending twist is very surprising and shocking. You will not see it coming. However, it was simply too over-the-top much for me and required a heaping amount of setting aside disbelief. On the other hand I will certainly admit that The Return of Ellie Black is a page turner that will keep most readers glued to the pages. Thanks to Simon & Schuster for providing me with an advance reader's copy via NetGalley. My review is voluntary and expresses my honest opinion.

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