Two Girls Down by Louisa Luna
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.