Feb Fiction, Part I: All the Missing Girls

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Image via Squarespace until I can find the book in my apartment and replace it with my own

February—with its cold days, dark nights, and blustering winds—is not exactly a walk in the park. On a winter weekday evening, you’re not likely to head out for a happy hour with friends, let alone a workout class; you’re much more likely to settle into a routine of regular reality TV viewings. If you’re like me, though, and too cheap for cable, or looking for a brief break from The Bachelor’s Corinne, might I recommend a thriller to while away your non-work waking hours? I’ve picked up two this month, so read on to hear which one I loved and which one is probably better than The Bachelor, but still not quite up to snuff.

            I picked up All the Missing Girls by Meghan Miranda off the “free table” at my office, without doing much investigating as to what it was about. I let it sit on my cubicle shelf for a couple of days, until one particularly slow morning at work, when I was browsing theSkimm, and noticed that “All the Missing Girls” was listed as a Skimm Read. I’ve read and enjoyed a few Skimm Reads before, and I wasn’t loving the Tom Robbins book I was currently reading (I’ve tried with him a few times, and I’ve concluded that it’s just not meant to be), so I got started on All the Missing Girls immediately.

Al the Missing Girls follows Nicolette, a school counselor living with her hot lawyer fiancé in Philadelphia, who heads back to her hometown to see her ailing alcoholic father and is forced to stay when she gets implicated in her young neighbor’s disappearance. This thriller’s “X factor”? The story is told backwards—a plot device I found excruciating. The book itself was a bit of a mess: everything “came together” in the end in a way that didn’t make the reader say “aha” so much as “WTF”.

Nicolette, despite her perfect life and perfect fiancé “up North,” can’t help but get drawn back into her old ways when she returns to her hometown. Her first love, Tyler, is dating Annelise, a twenty-three-year-old, who conveniently goes missing just a few days after Nicolette arrives in town—at least, I think. I was so damn confused about the timeline of this book, as a result of its being told backwards, that I cannot promise that any of my reporting on it is accurate [fake news is trendy these days, right?].

All the Missing Girls is a jumbled mixture of Nicolette regretting the way her family life has panned out—from her father, who drank himself into oblivion; to her distant brother; to the ex-boyfriend who still openly pines for her even though she displays no discernibly positive qualities throughout the duration of the book—and the “murder mystery” aspect. Annelise disappears in a way very similar to that of Nicolette’s former best friend, Corinne, a “magnetic” character who comes off a lot more like a bitch in Nicolette’s memories of her. When the book, which I’ve done a terrible job of recapping since I’m still not entirely sure exactly what went on when, draws to its conclusion, the result is profoundly unsatisfying. These days, its commonplace for the perpetrator of a thriller’s central crime to be an unexpected character, but in the case of All the Missing Girls, it’s the second person who comes to mind almost as soon as the book begins. IN CONCLUSION, if you’re going to while away the winter hours with a thriller…it shouldn’t be this one. BUT, stay tuned for part two of this post, where I reveal the right book to read this winter. À bientôt.

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