All the Missing Girls by Megan Miranda (Simon and Schuster, June 2016) is an intriguing mystery filled with psychological insights and captivatingly complicated characters. Nicolette Farrell thought she escaped Cooley Ridge, North Carolina, when she was eighteen, but her father and brother still live there so she has to return to help brother Daniel sell their father’s house. Patrick Farrell now resides in a nursing home because his memory comes and goes unexpectedly. Sometimes he recognizes Nic as his daughter. Sometimes he doesn’t. He lives in a world where time isn’t real and the people he loves are only pictures of the past.
Time plays a big part in this novel where the past still haunts the present. Author Miranda expertly manipulates past, present, and future until readers question what is real and what isn’t, makes readers wonder who the real monsters are, and keeps one reading until all of the loose ends are neatly tied up and truth is revealed. Tic toc, Nic. It’s truth or dare time.
This novel is full of insights into relationships. Everyone, including Nic, has secrets they try to keep hidden from outsiders, from friends and family, and even from themselves. Nic eventually comes face to face with all the skeletons in their closets, the monsters that hide in the woods behind her father’s house.
Everything changed ten years ago when Corinne Prescott, Nic’s best friend, disappeared. Now another girl is missing, and Nic and her family and friends are prime suspects. Were both girls murdered? By whom? This is, after all, a whodunit.
Tyler, Nic’s former boyfriend, could have done it. So could Jackson, Corinne’s former boyfriend. So could Daniel, Nic’s brother. So could Nic’s demented father. So could Bailey, friends with Nic and Corinne, whom Corinne had bullied. Nobody is above suspicion.
They say you can’t go home again. They say you can’t return to the past. Author Miranda proves the naysayers wrong.
If you like first-person mysteries with complicated characters, you’ll love All the Missing Girls. Highly recommended.