It’s a gorgeous Sunday afternoon, the last weekend of summer, and also the day of the Terry Fox Run where I live. It’s also the day before the election and I’m hoping for the best but preparing for the worst. At least I’ve got a strong cup of chai tea, a delicious date bar and a stack of books to console me if things go sideways.
I finished Lisa Jewell’s latest book last night, The Night She Disappeared, what she calls her “lockdown” book in the Afterward, and it did not disappoint. One night in June 2017, nineteen year-olds Zach and Tallulah head to the pub in their village for a “date night”. They meet up with some friends and head over to the mansion that is home to Tallulah’s friend, Scarlett, and never make it home. People in the village believe that they just ran away together, but Tallulah’s mother, Kim, knows this can’t be true because she’s sure they would never leave behind their eleven-month-old son Noah. Kim refuses to give up searching for her daughter and trying to find out what happened that night. In September 2018, Shaun and Sophie, the new head teacher and his girlfriend, arrive at the Maypole Academy from South London. Sophie writes crime novels that “do well in Norway” and while she is meant to be working on a new book, she has been unable to write anything since the move to the countryside. Having been told about the missing teens by a local woman, when she discovers a handwritten sign on the gatepost leading to the woods outside their cottage saying “Dig here”, she does just that. What she discovers is enough to start the whole investigation up again with renewed purpose, and Kim encourages Sophie's interest and her keen eye for potential clues and inconsistencies. I won’t say too much about the rest of the plot because one of the best things about Jewell’s novels is the slow but steady teasing out of details to bring the stories together, eventually coming to satisfying conclusions that answer all the questions without being too contrived. Her characters are interesting and well-rounded and the style of her writing is conversational, making this reader feel that she’s just been told a really interesting story by a friend. I particularly liked Sophie, and wondered how much of this character was based on Jewell herself. Anyway, if you already read her books, you will not be disappointed in this one, and if you aren’t already a fan but enjoy mysteries that almost cross the line into domestic fiction (a bit like Liane Moriarty except gentler and in reverse), then I would highly recommend them.
That’s all for today. I want to still enjoy some more outdoor time before the humidity returns tomorrow and then the rain hits next week. Goodbye summer…Bye for now… Julie
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