I hadn’t read anything by Claire Douglas which is why I picked up her latest bestseller, ‘The Girls Who Disappeared’ when I saw it at the Crosswords Bookstore at a mall in India recently. I’m a sucker for new authors I haven’t read. I always think I’m in for a delight. I’m usually disappointed though. But I never really learn. I have mixed feelings about this thriller novel. I won’t call it good but I won’t call it bad either. You can read it if you want a suspense story that distracts you for a little while.
Twenty years ago, three young friends vanished from the scene of an accident. The driver, Olivia, was badly injured and found on the scene. Now, journalist Jenna Halliday arrives in town to cover the anniversary of the surprising and horrifying event. She quickly discovers there’s more to the accident than what meets the eye. There are some people who know more than they let on and they will do anything to hide their secrets.
Narrated in two timelines, The Girls Who Disappeared builds on a sense of unease but the element of mystery isn’t very gripping. With few possibilities, you can pretty much guess what might have happened so there’s not much surprise there. But what Douglas has gotten right is the atmosphere of the place. It’s creepy and something gets under your skin. You just can’t shake off the feeling. If I’d take away a star for the cliché narrative, I’d give one back for the spooky setting.
Jenna is an interesting character, with her own biases and set ways. She’s stupid. She’s courageous. She acts without thinking. She thinks too much. She is you. She is me. I enjoyed getting to know her. As the pieces of the puzzle fall into place, you too will find yourself rooting for Jenna. She felt very real and I was as invested in her personal life as I was in finding out what actually happened to Olivia’s friends. There’s definitely a certain charm to the book but you have to be prepared for the run-of-the-mill storyline.
About the author
Claire Douglas knew she wanted to be a writer since she was a child. She studied journalism and then worked in the media for a while before moving on to write suspense and thriller novels. Her first book, The Sisters, won the Marie Claire Debut Novel Award in 2013. The Girls Who Disappeared instantly became a Sunday Times Bestseller. Douglas has been published in 15 countries. She lives in Bath, England, with her husband, children, and two cats.
The Girls Who Disappeared
Publisher: Penguin Random House UK
Pages: 393, Paperback