Struggling to put her life back together a decade after her beloved teen daughter's disappearance, a divorced woman bonds with a charming single father whose young child eerily resembles the woman's own lost daughter and who compels a wrenching search for answers. By the best-selling author of The Third Wife.
*Starred Review* Laurel Mack's world was destroyed when her 15-year-old daughter, Ellie, disappeared on her way to the library. Ellie, a bright, happy girl whose only care in the world was having to be tutored to pass her math exams, seemingly vanished from her suburban London neighborhood-CCTV cameras show nothing, and the police have no leads, so she's chalked up as a runaway. But 10 years later, after the family has fractured, remains are found along with Ellie's belongings, putting the case to rest. Laurel still has questions but is desperate to finally move on, so when charmingly geeky Floyd comes into her life, she latches on to him. But Floyd's young daughter, Poppy, bears an uncanny resemblance to Ellie-and, strangely, he has a connection to Ellie's former math tutor. Jewell teases out her twisty plot at just the right pace, leaving readers on the edge of their seats. There will surely be comparisons to novels such as Emma Donoghue's Room (2010) as well as all of the "Girl" thrillers, but Jewell's latest really isn't at all derivative. Her multilayered characters are sheer perfection, and even the most astute thriller reader won't see where everything is going until the final threads are unknotted. Those few who do guess early won't mind, as the pace and prose will keep them hooked. Copyright 2018 Booklist Reviews.
Ten years after her teenage daughter went missing, a mother begins a new relationship only to discover she can't truly move on until she answers lingering questions about the past.Laurel Mack's life stopped in many ways the day her 15-year-old daughter, Ellie, left the house to study at the library and never returned. She drifted away from her other two children, Hanna and Jake, and eventually she and her husband, Paul, divorced. Ten years later, Ellie's remains and her backpack are found, though the police are unable to determine the reasons for her disappearance and death. After Ellie's funeral, Laurel begins a relationship with Floyd, a man she meets in a cafe. She's disarmed by Floyd's charm, but when she meets his young daughter, Poppy, Laurel is startled by her resemblance to Ellie. As the novel progresses, Laurel becomes increasingly determined to learn what happened to Ellie, especially after discovering an odd connection between Poppy's mother and her daughter even a s her relationship with Floyd is becoming more serious. Jewell's (I Found You, 2017, etc.) latest thriller moves at a brisk pace even as she plays with narrative structure: The book is split into three sections, including a first one which alternates chapters between the time of Ellie's disappearance and the present and a second section that begins as Laurel and Floyd meet. Both of these sections primarily focus on Laurel. In the third section, Jewell alternates narrators and moments in time: The narrator switches to alternating first-person points of view (told by Poppy's mother and Floyd) interspersed with third-person narration of Ellie's experiences and Laurel's discoveries in the present. All of these devices serve to build palpable tension, but the structure also contributes to how deeply disturbing the story becomes. At times, the characters and the emotional core of the events are almost obscured by such quick maneuvering through the weighty plot. Dark and unsettling , this novel's end arrives abruptly even as readers are still moving at a breakneck speed. Copyright Kirkus 2018 Kirkus/BPI Communications. All rights reserved.
Then She Was Gone
Laurel let herself into her daughter’s flat. It was, even on this relatively bright day, dark and gloomy. The window at the front was overwhelmed by a terrible tangle of wisteria while the other side of the flat was completely overshadowed by the small woodland it backed onto.
An impulse buy, that’s what it had been. Hanna had just got her first bonus and wanted to throw it at something solid before it evaporated. The people she’d bought the flat from had filled it with beautiful things but Hanna never had the time to shop for furnishings and the flat now looked like a sad postdivorce downsizer. The fact that she didn’t mind her mum coming in when she was out and cleaning it was proof that the flat was no more than a glorified hotel room to her.
Laurel swept, by force of habit, down Hanna’s dingy hallway and straight to the kitchen, where she took the cleaning kit from under the sink. It looked as though Hanna hadn’t been home the night before. There was no cereal bowl in the sink, no milk splashes on the work surface, no tube of mascara left half-open by the magnifying makeup mirror on the windowsill. A plume of ice went down Laurel’s spine. Hanna always came home. Hanna had nowhere else to go. She went to her handbag and pulled out her phone, dialed Hanna’s number with shaking fingers, and fumbled when the call went through to voicemail as it always did when Hanna was at work. The phone fell from her hands and toward the floor where it caught the side of her shoe and didn’t break.
“Shit,” she hissed to herself, picking up the phone and staring at it blindly. “Shit.”
She had no one to call, no one to ask: Have you seen Hanna? Do you know where she is? Her life simply didn’t work like that. There were no connections anywhere. Just little islands of life dotted here and there.
It was possible, she thought, that Hanna had met a man, but unlikely. Hanna hadn’t had a boyfriend, not one, ever. Someone had once mooted the theory that Hanna felt too guilty to have a boyfriend because her little sister would never have one. The same theory could also be applied to her miserable flat and nonexistent social life.
Laurel knew simultaneously that she was overreacting and also that she was not overreacting. When you are the parent of a child who walked out of the house one morning with a rucksack full of books to study at a library a fifteen-minute walk away and then never came home again, then there is no such thing as overreacting. The fact that she was standing in her adult daughter’s kitchen picturing her dead in a ditch because she hadn’t left a cereal bowl in the sink was perfectly sane and reasonable in the context of her own experience.
She typed the name of Hanna’s company into a search engine and pressed the link to the phone number. The switchboard put her through to Hanna’s extension and Laurel held her breath.
“Hanna Mack speaking.”
There it was, her daughter’s voice, brusque and characterless.
Laurel didn’t say anything, just touched the off button on her screen and put her phone back into her bag. She opened Hanna’s dishwasher and began unstacking it.