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Friday 21 May 2021

The Night She Disappeared by Lisa Jewell


Jewell was an unread-by-me author till now. It was certainly an explosive, but pleasant, introduction, although I do have some niggles.

The niggles: well, the civilian-turns-amateur-detective thing is a bit overdone, and when said civilian is also a writer of detective novels, it's all a bit clichéd. Secondly, the story is told over two time frames, only 18-24 months apart; the extremely unwelcome present-tense narrative not only makes that confusing, but the latter is also messy: there is no congruity within the earlier time frame…some of it is present tense, some of it isn't. I'm not a fan of PTN in any case, even less of a fan when it's inconsistent.

That aside, Jewell is a fantastic writer, and this is certainly a very compelling read with a cheeky little twist at the end.

As the title suggests, there is a disappearance. Teenage mum, Tallulah and her boyfriend, Zach, go to the party of a rich, privileged, self-entitled student, leaving their son with his grandmother, Kim (Tallulah's mum). It's the last time Kim sees either of them. Two years later, novelist Sophie and her head-teacher husband move into the same village. Whilst exploring the nearby woods, she finds a note tied to a tree inviting the reader of the note to 'dig here'. She can't for the life of her fathom why that note is so familiar. What she finds buried in the signposted spot reopens the cold case of Tallulah and her boyfriend's unsolved disappearance.

Plenty of suspense and mystery, plenty of red herrings, in fact a plentiful amount of reasons to keep you firmly glued right to the end. I really enjoyed it.

As a result, I am definitely going to read more of this author, but I do so hope she doesn't have a fetish for present-tense narrative which I find so constrictive and unappealing.

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