All The Missing Girls by Megan Miranda

To paraphrase Hannibal Lecter, we covet with our eyes, what we see. The cover of All the Missing Girls is what first caught my eye. An empty ferris wheel, in the dark, rising out of the trees into a cloudy sky. The title hinting at a mystery and likely tragedy. Then the description of two missing girls, disappearing ten years apart, but linked in the way that small town tragedies are often linked; everyone knows everyone and you never really leave. Add to that a unique narrative device of telling the story backwards, from the 15th day after the second disappearance to the 1st, and you have all the ingredients for a great story.

Megan Miranda tells a great story and she does it with interesting, flawed, even tragic characters. Characters who you can’t trust, but who you become very invested in. The story is told through the eyes of Nicolette Farrell, who left Cooley Ridge 10 years ago after the disappearance of her friend Corinne. Pulled back to help deal with her ailing father, she is no sooner back than another girl goes missing. Annaleise, the missing girl, happened to be the alibi for Nic and her brother Daniel, as well as their friends Tyler, Jackson and Bailey. All of whom were the focus of the investigation ten years earlier.

Miranda brilliant spills out the information, a drab at a time, pulling the narrative forward even as time moves backwards. It’s a little bit difficult to wrap your head around the concept. The characters already know what the reader is just finding out because the action is in their past, but your future. Add to that the fact that none of the characters is completely honest, with themselves or with each other. The story moves ahead with one bombshell after the other as layers are peeled back. Along with facts of what happened with the disappearing girls, truths about the characters and who they really are get revealed.

All the Missing Girls will haunt you even as it thrills you. There is a bit of a resemblance to Shirley Jackson and The Haunting of Hill House in the way that this small town grips you and pulls you back into its clutches even after you think you’ve escaped and moved on. This is a great story that will have you turning the pages to get to the satisfying and haunting conclusion. Highly recommended.

I was fortunate to receive an advance copy of this book.

Description:  Like the spellbinding psychological suspense in The Girl on the Train and Luckiest Girl Alive, Megan Miranda’s novel is a nail-biting, breathtaking story about the disappearances of two young women—a decade apart—told in reverse.

It’s been ten years since Nicolette Farrell left her rural hometown after her best friend, Corinne, disappeared from Cooley Ridge without a trace. Back again to tie up loose ends and care for her ailing father, Nic is soon plunged into a shocking drama that reawakens Corinne’s case and breaks open old wounds long since stitched.

The decade-old investigation focused on Nic, her brother Daniel, boyfriend Tyler, and Corinne’s boyfriend Jackson. Since then, only Nic has left Cooley Ridge. Daniel and his wife, Laura, are expecting a baby; Jackson works at the town bar; and Tyler is dating Annaleise Carter, Nic’s younger neighbor and the group’s alibi the night Corinne disappeared. Then, within days of Nic’s return, Annaleise goes missing.

Told backwards—Day 15 to Day 1—from the time Annaleise goes missing, Nic works to unravel the truth about her younger neighbor’s disappearance, revealing shocking truths about her friends, her family, and what really happened to Corinne that night ten years ago.

Like nothing you’ve ever read before, All the Missing Girls delivers in all the right ways. With twists and turns that lead down dark alleys and dead ends, you may think you’re walking a familiar path, but then Megan Miranda turns it all upside down and inside out and leaves us wondering just how far we would be willing to go to protect those we love.

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