All the Missing Girls
Megan Miranda 2016
Simon & Schuster
If you liked Gone Girl or Girl on the Train, you’ll love All the Missing Girls by author Megan Miranda. On one level this is a slow moving, gripping psychological thriller about the disappearance of two young women from the same small town, ten years apart. On another level, it is about suppressed memories, family and lies, and the lengths you go to protect all of them. At the heart of the story is Nicolette, a 28 year old school counselor who now lives in Philadelphia, gladly moved from her rural hometown 10 years ago. When the novel starts, it had been a year since she visited home to help her brother settle their father in an assisted living facility. She unexpectedly needs to return home for the summer to ready the family house to put on the market. Before she says her goodbyes to her lawyer boyfriend-recently-turned fiancee and hits the road, she gets an odd message from her father alluding to her best friend’s disappearance ten years prior.
Once Nic arrives in Cooley Ridge, the story is told in reverse and back and forth from day 15 to day 1 in regards to the new investigation of the disappearance of Annaliese. Interspersed are flashbacks to the decade old cold case investigation of Corrine’s disappearance. The first investigation focused on Nic, her brother Daniel and her then boyfriend Tyler and his friend Jackson as suspects. As Nic re-lives the tragedy in her mind, she is haunted by her own suspicions and unanswered questions. The biggest question seemingly being why is her father, who is suffering from dementia, bringing up Corrine, and how can she keep the police away from him until she gets answers?
Initially the use of reverse story telling feels a bit awkward and unnecessary, but then there’s comes a point where it makes complete sense and seems brilliant. Miranda does a great job with the story’s pacing, with character development, leaving clues for the readers, and then delivery a big pay off for the latter part of the novel.