This was terrible. I finished it, because I had to, because I started it. But guys. I’m so glad I didn’t pay for this book. I’m gonna not shy away from spoilers here, because I doubt anyone is considering reading this, and if they are, they shouldn’t be. So yea, spoilers will abound from here out. This book is not worth your time.
The central mystery is the disappearance/murder of Charlotte Broden, as investigated by her sister, Ella. The biggest issue is that Charlotte and Ella are just really not well written. Their personalities are collections of flimsy woman stereotypes; one is the manic pixie dream girl writer who just wants to settle down, the other is the straight-laced no-nonsense business lady who’s desperate to be free. Ella is a former ADA, now in private law practice with her father, so of course goes straight to the NYPD detectives she used to be familiar with to discuss her sister’s disappearance. She is then given the most unrealistic access to any investigation this side of a terrible CBS procedural. She watches and gives tips to the detectives while they’re interviewing suspects for fuck’s sake. I’m not a cop, but I’m 99.9% sure that’s not how investigations work. At all. Anywhere.
The biggest (and pretty much only) lead Ella is following is an unfinished novel that Charlotte was writing, based loosely on her life, where she says that one of her three boyfriends murdered her. The logic of this is astonishingly terrible, and I’m still so mad that it was the center of the story. First off, it’s a fictional book. Nothing in there is guaranteed to be real, but it is treated as though she videotaped her murder. Second, she couldn’t have finished the book after she died SO HOW COULD SHE HAVE KNOWN WHO WAS GOING TO KILL HER ANYWAY. It makes no sense at all and it’s infuriating that it works as an investigation strategy. (Also, we get excerpts of her book, and it’s basically an even worse 50 Shades, but all of the characters talk about her like she’s the next James Joyce.) In her book, Charlotte’s stand-in is seeing three men, and so of course she definitely was in real life too, and those are the prime suspects. Her mystery lovers consist of:
- Her vaguely abusive live-in artist boyfriend that she’s seeing in public (and of course the abuse isn’t ever really addressed, because this is a terrible book)
- A young college student she’s seeing behind her boyfriend’s back, purely for sex (power dynamics of her being his TA are also not really addressed, because again, terrible book)
- A wealthy and mysterious business guy of some kind who she’s seeing behind everyone else’s back, and says she’s in love with (the fact that she knows nothing about him besides vaguely assuming he’s married, also not addressed, because, repeat, TERRIBLE BOOK)
Meanwhile, Ella has been leading a secret “double life” where she puts on a disguise and sings karaoke at a dive bar a couple times a month. (That is not a double life, friend. That is a hobby in a wig.) Anyway, the night after her sister disappears, but before she knows about it, Ella meets a handsome smooth-talking stranger at the bar and takes him home. This handsome bar stranger seems too good to be true and HMM I WONDER IF MAYBE HE IS. The police track down and interview the first two of Charlotte’s boyfriends, but don’t know who the last one could be. GOLLY GEE I HAVE NO IDEA. The false leads and red herrings presented are insanely obvious, and the conclusion is incredibly predictable. If you haven’t guessed by now, I don’t believe you. The mystery stranger is (duh) Charlotte’s mystery boyfriend and her murderer. He randomly ran into Ella the first time, then kept following her so he could follow the progress of the investigation? It doesn’t make a lot of sense. Ella figures it all out when she’s alone with him. They fight. She stabs him. She gets together with one of the cops. All is solved. The book is still terrible. The end.