Saturday, December 18, 2021

The Lost Girls by Jessica Chiarella

Title: The Lost Girls
Author: Jessica Chiarella
Publication: Putnam, trade paperback, 2021
Genre: Suspense
Setting: Chicago
Description: Marti Reese has never recovered from her sister’s disappearance – how could she when, at eight years old, she was the only witness to Maggie’s getting into a car with a man Marti did not know. Twenty years have passed since Maggie disappeared and Marti has tried to build a normal life, marrying a college classmate who loves and tries to understand her. But when a dead girl is found that could be Maggie, all of Marti’s anguish returns. Her obsession destroys Marti’s marriage but with a close friend she creates an award-winning podcast about her search for Maggie. And her persistence is rewarded when someone comes forward with new information that links Maggie’s disappearance and a murder that took place nearby. Marti is so desperate for information that she ignores the obvious fact that searching for a murderer could be very dangerous . . .

My Impression: I had difficulty deciding whether or not I liked this book. While there are plenty of books about sisters haunted by lost siblings, Marti is not a very appealing heroine. She destroyed her own marriage through infidelity and lies to her husband. She’s also one of those heroines who takes stupid risks, which is exasperating to the reader and makes books scary to read late at night (of course, that is probably one of the reasons one reads crime fiction). She is foul-mouthed and rude to her family, and while they are likely annoying, they too suffered a loss. Really, the only endearing thing about Marti is her determination to find out what happened to her sister, yet this causes her to do things that seem out of character, specifically, accepting what people tell her as being true without researching.

It is quite plausible that Marti’s dogged search for her sister could be turned into an award-winning series, given that her friend Andrea has experience with true crime podcasts and the public is sympathetic to her quest. When Ava Vreeland turns up, hoping Marti will investigate a murder involving her family, Marti and Andrea have a possibility for a second season for their podcast:
Two days later, Andrea and I sit at opposite mics in her little bedroom studio, the conflicting case files open between us. It’s just like Andrea to want to record this conversation. Just like she did when Jane Doe was found, turning the recorder on before I’d even gotten back to our table in the little bistro in Lakeview. Already recording, even though she didn’t know what had happened yet. 
“So,” she says now. “From the beginning. Convince me.” 
Convince her, I think.  But of what?  Should I try to outline the ways in which Sarah's murder might be related to Maggie's disappearance? Make the case that Colin McCarty may be innocent?  Or simply pitch the whole story as interesting enough to carry their second season, even without any certainty of either the former or the latter?
I wasn’t completely convinced but kept on reading this dark but interesting story. The Lost Girls is my thirtieth book in the Cloak and Dagger Challenge hosted at Carol's Notebook.
Source: Library

1 comment:

Lark said...

I'm not sure I'd be able to like Marti either. And I hate when heroines take stupid risks! It's such a pet peeve of mine in books.