Book: "All the Missing Girls" by Megan Miranda
Publication Date: June 28, 2016
In Megan Miranda’s “All the Missing Girls,” readers watch as Nicolette “Nic” Farrell is pulled back into a life she wants to forget.
Ten years prior to the events of the novel, Nic's best friend vanished without a trace. After much pointing of fingers and little true resolution to the mysterious case, Nic is driven to leave town and start a new life in Philadelphia.
When Nic returns home to be with her father as his dementia worsens, it becomes apparent that her town is a hostile environment. The place she once called home could barely be considered that anymore, only filled with ghosts of the past.
Only a few days into her return, another girl goes missing and Nic's father, whose random outbursts match the description of a known murderer, becomes a suspect. The reader follows Nic as she works to absolve her father and unravel the truth behind the disappearances.
What sets this book apart from other mystery novels is the unusual structure of the narrative: the story is given to the reader backwards. Readers are fed the story over the span of two weeks, with occasional flashbacks, in reverse-chronological order. The story is designed to give the reader the opportunity to piece the clues together before the crimes themselves are revealed.
The characters have distinct depth; they're rightfully flawed and not totally innocent. By the time the truth at the core of the mystery is made plain at the end of the novel, it becomes clear that even the seemingly most innocent characters have skeletons in their closets.
The reveal at the end was not only shocking, but believable. The pieces given to readers fit together like a puzzle at the end, where subtle things that might have been overlooked turn out to be key elements in unraveling the mystery. Without the unorthodox chronological structure of the story, this probably could never have been achieved so masterfully.
“All the Missing Girls” is gripping from the first page. Its unique timeline gives readers a new perspective of the risks authors can take to tell a mystery story, which is admirable. This attention-grabbing book is the perfect poolside, lemonade-in-hand kind of read, especially on a hot Columbia summer day.