Two Girls Down: An Alice Vega Novel

Louisa Luna

Two Girls Down: An Alice Vega Novel
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Two Girls Down: An Alice Vega Novel

Louisa Luna

Jamie Brandt was not a bad mother. Later she would tell that to anyone who would listen: police, reporters, lawyers, her parents, her boyfriend, her dealer, the new bartender with the knuckle tattoos at Schultz’s, the investigator from California and her partner, and her own reflection in the bathroom mirror, right before cracking her forehead on the sink’s edge and passing out from the cocktail of pain, grief, and fear.

When two sisters disappear from a parking lot while their mother is in Kmart, the devastated family hires bounty hunter Alice Vega to help find the girls. Immediately shut out by a local police department already stretched too thin by budget cuts and the growing meth epidemic, Vega enlists the help of a disgraced former cop, Max Caplan. Cap is a man trying to put the scandal of his past behind him and move on, but Vega needs his help, and she will not be denied.

With little to go on, Vega and Cap will go to extraordinary lengths to untangle a dangerous web of lies, false leads, and complex relationships to find the girls before time runs out, and they are gone forever.


Jamie Brandt has just about had enough of her two girls – in the same way any parent who loves their kids can also tire of them after a long week – when she leaves them in the car outside Kmart to pick something up. But by the time she gets back to her car, they are both gone. And so Jamie’s aunt hires Alice Vega – private detective, finder of people, robust of character – who has a one hundred percent success rate at finding missing people, though not a one hundred percent success rate at finding them alive. In turn, Vega hires ex-cop Max Caplan for help in getting through to the overworked police that aren’t getting anywhere in the case. In this turbulent, razor-sharp book, Vega and Cap won’t stop until they get somewhere, and you’d take this book anywhere with you to follow them.

A good plot can of course barrel a book along at pace, but it’s great characters that can truly flesh it out. Luna has given us two of them here: the highly strung Vega, always happy to use her knuckles but unwilling to sleep or eat; and the maligned Cap, surprisingly not bitter about the unfair break in his career trajectory, mostly just happy to be a father to his teenage daughter Nell while making money busting men for cheating on their wives. As the two of them follow every lead to find Kylie and Bailey Brandt – and there are many the town’s understaffed police force aren’t tracking – there are threads that tighten and loop around and tie the book together like a parcel delivered straight to the part of your brain that produces adrenaline. Not every path trodden will be pleasant – fair warning to readers – but this is a beautifully taut firecracker of a read.

Fiona Hardy is our monthly crime fiction columnist, and also blogs about children’s books at Fiona The Hardy.

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