Tuesday, November 2, 2021

Before She Disappeared, a new series by Lisa Gardner

Title: Before She Disappeared
Author: Lisa Gardner
Publication: Brilliance Audio, 2021
Genre: Suspense
Setting: Present-day Boston
Description: In this series launch by a New York Times bestselling author and winner of the Daphne du Maurier Award, Frankie has an unusual profession: she searches for missing people, cold cases on which the police have given up. This obsession with finding people substitutes for her old alcohol addiction. Now she has moved into the Mattapan neighborhood of Boston to search for Angelique Badeau, a 15-year-old Haitian girl who has been missing for more than a year. Frankie gets a bartending job to support her inquiries and give her cover, and explains her mission to local police, who curse her interference. But Frankie’s technique works and she starts uncovering new info in the case. She also becomes interested in uncovering the handsome police detective . . .

My Impression: Long ago, during my time as a women’s fiction editor, I was speaking at a romance conference in Boston where I met Lisa Gardner, then writing as Alicia Scott and at the beginning of what became a very successful career writing crime fiction. I have read all her books since then, particularly enjoying those set in Boston. This book is set in a particularly gritty part of the city. I was listening to it as I drove to work the other day when a policeman tells Frankie to meet him at a Haitian bakery called Le Foyer. The description of the meat pies was so enticing that I Googled when I got to work to see if it was a real place and it was! As it was a quiet day at work, I drove over to find it at lunchtime (it even had a parking lot) and went inside to show them the audiobook package:

“Did you know your bakery is in this book?” I asked. “The food sounded so good I drove half an hour to try it! What should I order?”

Blank stares from the staff.

“Is there a list of what you have available? What flavor are those cookies?”

More blank stares and sighs of annoyance from those behind me in line.

Eventually, I ordered six chicken patties and one cookie. After I paid, I saw the patties came in beef, chicken, cod, and eel. I am sorry to report although the first one (warm from the oven) wasn’t bad, once back in the office I found them dry and unimpressive. The cookie looked like a sugar cookie but tasted like sawdust. I would say she added it for local color without investigating it but there was a line of customers . . .
The story itself was suspenseful and entertaining, although Frankie is one of those heroines who puts herself into ridiculous danger. At least, there is a reason for it – she is (seemingly) self-destructive because of the demons in her past
 involving a man named Paul who helped her overcome her alcoholism. We know something went badly wrong between them but although some of the story is revealed at the end, it doesn’t all make sense. Perhaps more backstory is to come in future books. I did have some quibbles about how the case was investigated and what the police had failed to do.
Frankie’s way of investigating these missing persons is to find out what they were doing before they disappeared but the title also refers to what she does – as reparation for her misdeeds – before she disappears, off to the next case.

This is my twenty-eighth book in the Cloak and Dagger Challenge hosted at Carol's Notebook.

Source: Library.  I should also mention the narrator was excellent.


Cath said...

I love that you went to the bakery in the book! But sorry it wasn't all that you hoped for including blank looks when you told them their shop is in a book. I like the sound of the book to be honest. I'm sure there are loads of books set in Boston but personally I don't come across many. That said, I have four books listed for Massachusetts in my US states challenge, that I've read: one of the Rabbi books by Harry Kemelman, Summer by Edith Wharton, Moby Dick (only partly set in Nantucket, Mass.) and The Chatham School Affair by Thomas H. Cook. I don't think any of these is Boston based unless the Rabbi books are, I can't actually remember. Any recs, Constance?

Jeanne said...

Sounds like a missed opportunity, by the bakery! It's always fun to go somewhere in real life that you've read about, though.

Lex @ Lexlingua said...

I don't think I'm too keen on this one. But this is the first time I'm hearing of the Daphne du Maurier Award! Clearly, I've been missing out, now I want to go look up past award winners too.

CLM said...

Goodreads seems to have a Daphne du Maurier award: https://www.goodreads.com/award/show/17659-daphne-du-maurier-award and so does RWA:

but I can't say I have heard of most of these people so I don't think we can rely on its judges.

The bakery was a fun excursion! There isn't much to eat near my office if you don't wake up in time to make and bring lunch but driving half an hour each way is not something I would normally do. Pre-Covid, I always took the subway and bus to work so that would not have been an option anyway.

Quintessential Boston books: Johnny Tremain is one of my favorite books about Boston, also Common Ground by J. Anthony Lukas although it is very long. A Catch of Consequence is very good but leaves Boston midway through for England. I'll have to think about this!