Ever since Lisa Jewell’s And Then She Was Gone (2017), I’ve been a hooked reader. The Night She Disappeared is her newest, and with an abandoned mansion (that’s got its own Wikipedia entry), a family drenched in dark secrets, and the stubborn cold case of two missing teens that (two years later) might finally be thawing, prepare to read late into the night. I finished this superbly plotted domestic suspense thriller in one sitting.
In 2017, Tallulah is the (happy) teenage mom to an adorable little boy and the (reluctant) partner to a controlling boyfriend. When Tallulah and her boyfriend, Zach, don’t return home after a rare night of partying, the police are quick to assume the pair’s run-off and away from their responsibilities. But Kim (Tallulah’s mom) knows her daughter better than anyone else, and she knows Tallulah would never leave her baby behind. In 2019, Tallulah and Zach are still missing.
The novel works with a clever then and now narrative that’s split between the events that led up to and then follow the disappearance of Tallulah in 2017, and jump to the first break in the case in 2019, which begins with an ominous sign posted at a cottage gate with instructions to ‘DIG HERE.’ This sign just so happens (or is there more to it?) to catch the eye of Sophie Turner. Sophie is a writer of cozy mysteries and the (recent) girlfriend of Maypole House’s newest headteacher. Sophie, who should be working on her latest novel, is instantly drawn to the mystery and the abandoned mansion (with its own turret) deep within the woods that border her cottage.
In true Lisa Jewell fashion, The Night She Disappeared is expertly plotted, deftly paced, and populated with richly drawn characters who will make your heart ache for what they suffer and lose. Much here focuses on the whodunnit mystery, but much more focuses on how the individual characters deal with the hand they’ve been dealt. More than anything, readers feel as though they’re seeing genuine characters making real-life choices. Tallulah’s mom Kim and novelist Sophie, especially, are standout characters who will remain memorable long after the last page.
What’s more to love: part of The Night She Disappeared is set at an elite boarding school, so there’s a vibe of dark academia here, which is absolutely lush; then the centuries-old abandoned mansion with its mix of different architecture styles and web of secrets — totally another selling point … for the novel; the mansion’s slightly out of my price range.
Multiple points of view and timelines keep readers at the edges of their seats. A gripping psychological thriller.
Book: The Night She Disappeared
Publication Date: July 22nd, 2021
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.