All the Missing Girls

Megan Miranda

All the Missing Girls
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All the Missing Girls

Megan Miranda

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.

Review

From the moment Nicolette Farrell hears her brother’s message – that they need to sell the family home – she knows she has to go back to her hometown of Cooley Ridge and deal with the other thing she’s been ignoring: a note from her father that says I need to talk to you. That girl. I saw that girl. And the only girl that could be is Nicolette’s high school best friend, Corinne, who disappeared ten years ago and has never been found. Does this mean Corinne has returned? Or is her father’s dementia worsening, and keeping him from staying in the present?

And so Nic drives across the country and back to her run-down childhood home to figure it out and clean out the house – but then another woman goes missing, and the reader is catapulted two weeks forward. From there the story works backwards, with every chapter starting with the day before, revealing what happened in the missing two weeks and ending where it all began. This disjointed sense of time is enough to keep the reader enthralled, and in the same unnerved mindset as the book’s characters, scrabbling to make sense of what is happening.

All the Missing Girls (you know my thoughts on this; even one of the characters says of the twenty-three-year-old newly missing woman, ‘I wouldn’t call her a girl, exactly’) is the kind of psychological thriller that pulls you into Nicolette’s life, drowning you in both her murky experience of adolescence and the haunting she feels in the present day: the crackling of fireplaces, the eyes in the woods, the invincible hope of teenagers until they aren’t invincible, until one goes missing and everyone’s lives are upended. All these years later, and Corinne – the type of person who manipulated those around her, making them so intertwined that their lives and relationships bled into each other – is the subject of the last message Anneleise Carter sends before she vanishes, telling the police that she has something to tell them about the decade-old case.

This is a book rife with tension, with the unknown, as the story plummets backwards in time and clues are dropped as if you already know what they mean; it’s a different kind of unlayering. A throwaway line: of course, you’re supposed to know this. Unless you read everything backwards, and then come blinking back into the real world, where days follow each other again, and no one is in your house… but you should probably check the windows again.


Fiona Hardy blogs about Crime Fiction at readingkills.com and puts together the Dead Write column for the Readings Monthly newsletter.

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