The Night She Went Missing by Kristen Bird
Published by MIRA ISBN 9780778332101
Trade paperback, $16.99, 352 pages
In the prologue to Kristen Bird's intense suspense novel The Night She Went Missing, Emily is found face up in the water of the harbor. Who is she and how did she get there?
Emily is the teenage daughter of Carter and Catherine, who recently moved from their home in Oregon to Carter's hometown, the island of Galveston, Texas. The family moved because Catherine did something scandalous and it was thought best to make a fresh start.
Carter's imperious mother Rosalyn is the grand dame of Galveston. She pretty much owns the island, no one, not even the sheriff, does anything without her permission. Rosalyn is thrilled to have her son back home, and she attempts to bring Catherine into Galveston society whether she wants it or not.
Emily is angry she had to leave all her friends and school behind because of her mother. Many of the students at her new school resent her, including Anna, the reigning Queen Bee at school. Anna's former boyfriend Alex, the star athlete, is attracted to Emily and they become friends.
Alex was accused a few years ago of sexually assaulting a female student, something he vehemently denied, and while he was cleared of the charges, there is still a cloud of suspicion surrounding him. When Emily disappears after a gathering where Alex was with her, once again people believe he was involved- even his mother Morgan has her doubts about him.
Much of the book takes place during the ten weeks that Emily was missing. Carter and Catherine are beside themselves, Emily's twin little sisters are distraught, and Rosalyn is determined to turn over every stone to find her granddaughter.
Emily's car was found by the gulf, with her keys and cell phone inside, but no sign of her. After an exhaustive search, the pervailing belief was that Emily drowned, but Catherine will not give up hope that Emily is alive.
We meet the people of this insular community- Anna's mother Leslie, who is Rosalyn's right-hand woman, always there to organize school functions and push her daughter to be number one. Alex's mother Morgan is divorced and her doubts about her son eat away at her. Robert Steele is the handsome, hardworking doctor who supports his widowed sister-in-law Leslie after his brother died, and he dates Morgan.
After Emily is found, the next step is to discover where she was all this time. Anyone who is a careful reader of suspense novels will probably be able to guess who is responsible for Emily's disappearance even though the author throws in some red herrings, but you may have to suspend disbelief for some of the other plot revelations.
I found Catherine's scandal back home an interesting twist, it's unusual to have such a big character flaw in a protagonist. Emily's ability to hold her faith as well as her belief in science shows a mature intellectual capability which is refreshing. The island community of Gavelston was also a unique setting, I can't remember reading a novel set there. Fans of J.T. Ellison will enjoy this one.
Thanks to Harlequin for putting me on Kristen Bird's tour.
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