A nail-biting, breathtaking story about the disappearances of two young women – a decade apart – told in reverse. A brilliant debut from an amazing new voice in thriller writing.
It’s been ten years since Nicolette Farrell left her rural hometown after her best friend, Corinne, disappeared without trace. Then a letter from her father arrives – ‘I need to talk to you. That girl. I saw that girl.’ Has her father’s dementia worsened, or has he really seen Corinne? Returning home, Nicolette must finally face what happened on that terrible night all those years ago.
Then, another young woman goes missing, almost to the day of the anniversary of when Corinne vanished. And like ten years ago, the whole town is a suspect.
Told backwards – Day 15 to Day 1 – Nicolette works to unravel the truth, revealing shocking secrets about her friends, her family, and what really happened to Corinne.
Like nothing you’ve ever read before, All the Missing Girls is a brilliantly plotted debut thriller that will leave you breathless. (Goodreads)
If I were to judge this book from an objective point of view, it could easily surpass 4 stars; the writing style especially the way the story is narrated is really clever and intriguing. The writing is absolutely solid and gorgeous, the hazy, obscure tone of Nic’s voice perfectly matches the overall undertone of this book. Calm, dark, yet hazy and murky – nothing comes to a clear light until very close to the end. I must admit I was frustrated and unmotivated at times because I didn’t get any closer to exactly what happened to Corinne and Annaleise no matter how far I got into the book, but I do appreciate how deftly this story is woven. I never expected this book to be like this.
To elaborate on this, I think I can liken this book to a Russian nest dolls as the book suggests. This might be the truest reflection of this book, a mirror image of what this book is all about.
The story is NOT narrated in a conventional way – first we witness Nic, the protagonist, come back to her hometown to get her house tidied up to put it up for sale after 10 years – right after her then best friend, Corinne Prescott went missing. And then another girl, Annaleise Carter, has gone missing. The author gives us an inkling of the secrets regarding either Corinne or Annaleise breaking loose, and then Nic starts to tell her story BACKWARDS.
From Part 2, each chapter delineates the plot in reverse, going back one day at a time. It’s exactly like a Russian nest dolls – when you lift a lid then you find another layer and then another layer and another layer… it was indeed an intriguing way of telling a story and generates a lot of suspense as I tuned pages, making me want to get closer to whatever happened to Corinne and Annaleise.
Mind you, it was confusing when I dove into Part Two. There were lots of names and facts I didn’t even know about or believe I wasn’t told about.
That being said though, it was also exhilarating to put the pieces together in the next chapter – I had a lot of ‘eureka’ moments which made me motivated to go further into the book as quickly as possible before I forget what’s been told in the previous chapters.
It was when I assumed this book should be read in a short length or time – one or two sittings ideally because of the narration style. But I turned out to be wrong. You don’t as easily forget things as you’d imagine. I put this book down for a couple of days but they all came back to me when I resumed reading. I could have forgotten a lot during my little break, but the author brings everything, or the critical things that need to be remembered back in the open, and slowly led me towards the bottom of the things.
As for the plot, I think readers should dive in without knowing much of the plot. One of the enjoyments of reading this book is definitely tugging the thread to the truth along with Nic as she self-reflects her past.
Granted, there are just too many secrets, dark sides of the characters in the story which only creates another layer of the fog that mystifies us. And sadly to say, I felt this book a bit underwhelming. I am not saying this book, per se, is bad, but I didn’t expect the case of Corinne to end up that way. I was expecting something more… and different.
In addition to that, while I really appreciated the tactful writing style, I had issues with the characters and the story. Like I mentioned earlier, the undertone is calm, yet dark. You can smell that most of the characters in this book keep secrets to themselves. Everyone seems suspicious and everyone seems reluctant to fess up. I especially had trouble connecting with Nic initially. I didn’t know whether she wants to know what’d happened to Corinne, or Annaleise, or she’s just a type who turns a blind eye to something she doesn’t want to see and runs away from it. It does stand to reason why this book came across quite hazy because Nic herself didn’t know the truth until the very end, but it frustrated me so much to the extent I didn’t want to read any further.
Regardless, an hour later, as I processed and mulled over my thoughts on this book, I started to feel about her differently. Having read what she has gone through and what a big secret to hold in, it’s natural she acts that way, no wonder she is so disturbed and unsettled.
I owe it to my fellow blogger, Inge@The Belgian Reviewer, for pushing me through the book. Had there not been her advice, I wouldn’t have finished this book and haven’t reached this conclusion.
As she suggested, the ending was satisfactory. Not very much, but on a decent level.
Nic finally decides to face up to the truth and reality head-on, and resolves to build a life with a huge secret deeply hidden, in the place where she truly belongs.
It’s somewhat hopeful, but a slight concerns over the rehash of the events is definitely there. Hopeful, but not entirely. I would say this is a fitting end to this book.
This is not exactly my kind of mystery or psychological thriller. The opinions could be divided. But I am relieved that I finally finished with this book. If you like a unique mystery book that you don’t get to know hardly anything until the very end, this book might be for you.
My Rating: ★★★.5