The Night She Disappeared
By Lisa Jewell
Published by Random House UK
What it’s about?
“Mum, there’s some people here from college, they asked me back to theirs. Just for an hour or so. Is that OK?”
Midsummer 2017: teenage mum Tallulah heads out on a date, leaving her baby son at home with her mother, Kim.
At 11pm she sends her mum a text message. At 4.30am Kim awakens to discover that Tallulah has not come home.
Friends tell her that Tallulah was last seen heading to a pool party at a house in the woods nearby called Dark Place.
Tallulah never returns.
2018: walking in the woods behind the boarding school where her boyfriend has just started as a head-teacher, Sophie sees a sign nailed to a fence.
A sign that says: DIG HERE …
A cold case. An abandoned mansion. A family hiding a terrible secret.
Prepare to be hooked. Lisa Jewell’s latest thriller is her best yet.
What I think:
A new Lisa Jewell thriller goes straight to the top of my reading lists as soon as they are published. She is the queen of carefully plotted dual narratives that hook you in from the first page to the last.
And this is no exception.
Tallulah and her boyfriend have disappeared. They were supposed to be going out for dinner and believed Zach was going to propose. After joining some friends for a pool party they did not return. Some people believe the pressure of being teenage parents has got too much and they have runaway together. Tallulah’s mum does not believe her daughter would ever have left her baby son and is determined not to give up.
The narrative is split between Kim in the present, Tallulah in the past and crime writer Sophie who discovers a sign that sparks her interest and leads her to start her own investigation.
The three voices are clear and distinct and although the past is not too distant there is never any confusion which is one of the things I always love about Jewell’s books.
The writer vividly creates the voice of Tallulah moving from teen to adult. Coping with her studies and friendships while parenting has forced responsibility onto her shoulders. Straddling college life and parenthood is not easy especially with a boyfriend who is increasingly demanding. Tallulah has lost sight of who she is but is keeping her true feelings to herself which adds to the poignancy of her disappearance.
My favourite character was Sophie. Having left London to move in with her older boyfriend as he takes the running of the elite boarding school, she is also lost. Writer’s block has hit and the reality of position means she is often alone. Her writer’s instinct compells her to investigate Tallulah’s disappearance with some shocking results.
This book is faiy long but well paced. The build up is slow as you get to know the characters but it builds to a thrilling climax. There are lots of twists and so.e characters you can never quite trust.
I was hooked from beginning to end.
Thank you Netgalley for my gifted digital copy. The Night She Disappeared is out now.