‘Then She Was Gone’ by Lisa Jewell

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Then She Was Gone is a bingeworthy suspense novel by Lisa Jewell, told in six parts with 4 POVs. Strangeness ensues.

Laurel’s 15-year-old daughter Ellie disappeared. Did she run away? Was she abducted?

Ten years later, Laurel meets a man named Floyd. His daughter, Poppy, reminds Laurel of Ellie.

Can you guess what happens from that quick summary of the first act? I couldn’t, so I kept listening to the Audible version (great for long commutes). At first a simple “missing girl” story, the focus shifts to Laurel and the aftermath, highlighting the dysfunction that happens in families touched by tragedy.

Clever readers will spot the villain early; the meaty part of the book involves the unraveling of the circumstances surrounding the villain’s behavior. It’s not what the psycho did; it’s how and why they did it. This one (judging from a glance at comments online) disturbed a few readers. But Jewell’s rendering of the twisted story is done with care, and I found it to be palatable and dare I say plausible.

A few characters seemed expendable; I’ll call those red herrings, a staple of any good mystery. The ending skewed saccharine but it was tidy enough and the dark tone throughout the novel balanced the tender moment. Read (or listen to) this one if you’re in the mood for a dark psycho-suspense, emphasis on psycho.