Miranda certainly can craft a pretty sentence and the central character, Nic, at first appears interesting and sympathetic. It seems ten years ago she fled her raunchy small town in North Carolina where everyone knows too much about everyone else, has gone to graduate school, found a job in Philadelphia, and a satisfying new life. She has a met a successful lawyer named Everett, to whom she is now engaged.
Nic’s charmed life is interrupted by a call from her brother, telling her that their dementia- suffering father has taken a turn for the worse and they must sell his house since the family is also out of money. So Nic returns to North Carolina to get the house in shape to sell, wondering as she goes, what her father meant in a cryptic letter he sent to her weeks earlier concerning Nic’s best friend in high school, who went missing around the time Nic left town.
The author’s technique is frustrating enough without Nic practically screaming in her narration about mysterious ghosts in the forest, strange noises and lights, and possible intruders. She makes constant illusions to events the night ten years before when Nic and her best friend, along with her brother and a mix of other friends and boyfriends went to the county fair, and Nic took up the challenge to hang from the Ferris wheel car. Sometime after that there was a fist fight and Nic’s friend disappeared—all very confusing. Nic’s father may know what happened to the first missing girl and the family tries hard to keep the police from talking to him in a nursing home.
As the story unfolds backwards, Nic seems to be falling apart, drinking too much, not sleeping, popping in on people with her annoying questions, and making no friends in the process. By the time we get to the end which is actually the day Nic arrived back in town, we learn how another girl who was peripherally involved with the first disappearance has now disappeared. She had had an affair with Nic’s brother, whose wife is expecting, and everybody is a potential suspect.
After all the buildup, the accusations, multitude of characters, and dark caverns, the ending went flat. The revelation of what happened to the first missing girl is, or at least was for me, a letdown, because Nic knew all along (the unreliable narrator devise). Perhaps because I’m male, cheating on the fiancé, Everett, annoyed me and I lost my sympathy for Nic and I was again tempted to pitch the book. However, my daughter liked that she returned to her true love. All the Missing Girls does not touch most of the other work in the genre and I have to give it a hearty thumbs down.
Steve E Clark as seen in the New York Times is Author of Justice Is for the Lonely and Justice Is for the Deserving, Kristen Kerry Novels Of Suspense. You can purchase his books via his site at www.SteveClarkAuthor.com/BuyBook or request it at your local book store. Want to know more about Steve Clark, read more reviews or speak directly with Steve? Learn more about Steve on his website www.SteveClarkAuthor.com