Reviews Suspense

Before She Disappeared by Lisa Gardner Review

Lisa Gardner’s first standalone novel in twenty years, and it’s a doozy!

Frankie Elgin is a recovering alcoholic who lives her life on the move without emotional ties. There’s a traumatic event in her past that’s left her restless and guilt-ridden, and it’s set her on a road of never-ending atonement, searching for the missing (mostly from minority groups) — who’ve been forgotten by the system. And Frankie is good at what she does. As a middle-aged woman with only basic self-defense skills, she appears non-threatening. As a civilian, many people are more likely to speak with her than the cops. So far, she’s found sixteen missing persons, although she’s recovered none alive.

Now Frankie’s in Boston’s Mattapan neighborhood, looking into the case of a missing Haitian teenager, whiz kid Angelique Badeau. Angelique (last seen leaving her high school) has been missing for eleven months, and despite the absence of new leads, Frankie is determined to find her alive. Soon Frankie discovers that (unbeknownst to the authorities) another local girl (and secret friend of Angelique) is missing. Before she knows it, Frankie’s in all kinds of danger, without those superior self-defense skills that would really come in handy or even a gun. Frankie, one might (rightly) assume, has a bit of a death wish.

The pace is a clip throughout, and the danger steadily builds as Frankie begins to unravel the tangled web of secrets surrounding Angelique’s disappearance. Bullets fly and lives are lost as Frankie races against time. The hero of Before She Disappeared is a threefold wonder: Frankie (with her razor-sharp wit and dogged determination, of course), but equally a showstopper is Gardner’s riveting tapestry of mystery (prepare to read *just one more chapter*), as well as a cast of secondary characters so compelling you’ll want to linger on the page and with this story world just a bit longer.

Book: Before She Disappeared
Published: Dutton
Pages: 384
Publication Date: February 2nd, 2021
Stars: 4.5/5

Penguin Random House kindly sent me a free copy of this book in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion, rating, or the content of my review.

For more about great new books and inspiring authors, read The Penguin Post, a magazine from Penguin Random House South Africa.


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