This is a rare book that blends both mystery and character building in equal parts. I had never read Karin Slaughter before, but I think I will be remedying that soon. The style of this book and Slaughter’s writing reminded me of the better elements of Tana French and Gillian Flynn. Start to finish, this book is fast-paced and unflinching in its portrayal of pure evil.
The story revolves around the disappearance of Julia Carroll in 1994. It looks at the ways her disappearance affected her family members, both big and small. It also weaves a tense narrative that reveals that Julia is not the only girl to disappear mysteriously, and now there is another girl missing; that case bears more than a small resemblance to the details of Julia’s disappearance.
Slaughter weaves a complicated, violent web of incidents that come together to create a confluence of evil. I will warn you, there is some very graphic violence described, most of it sexual violence visited upon women. So if that’s a trigger for you, I would avoid this. If you can stomach it, though, this story is worth your time. I was impressed by how she paid attention to the little things that affect the family of a missing loved one, and the relationship between the remaining family members is messy and complicated. Her characters have strong voices and personalities all their own. Some of the plot is a bit predictable if you’ve read a lot of mystery, but knowing (or at least suspecting) what was coming didn’t lessen my enjoyment even one iota. There was some genuine humor mixed in as well, which I always appreciate.
If you’re looking for a solid mystery with engaging characters and can handle some explicit violence, this is definitely a must-read.