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January 17, 2021

Before She Disappeared by Lisa Gardner ~ a Review

by Donna Huber

If you are looking for a good crime novel full of suspense but isn't a police procedural, then I highly recommend Lisa Gardner's Before She Disappeared

Amazon affiliate links are used on this site. A free book was provided for an honest review.

Before She Disappeared
January 2021; Dutton; 978-1524745042
audio, ebook, print (400 pages); crime thriller 
I've read one book in Gardner's D.D. Warren series and one in her Quincy & Rainie series, so I knew I was in for a good read. Before She Disappeared did not disappoint. 

This novel has two mysteries for the reader to unravel and I promise both will take turns you won't guess.

First, there's the female protagonist Frankie. She's a recovering alcoholic who travels the country solving cold missing person cases. She has never been a police detective or a private investigator. Her only skills seem to be bartending and asking the right questions. She has no home, no family, not any friends - all her worldly possessions fit into a carry-on size suitcase. Why does she do what she does?

Then we have the crime - the missing persons case that Frankie has come to Boston to help solve: a 15-year-old Haitian girl who disappeared into thin air after school one day 11 months ago. 

Boston is a much bigger city, with many more resources than any place Frankie has worked before. Yet, the police haven't made any progress and don't have any hope of a new lead. Frankie's presence at first is pretty unwelcomed. Though always an outsider, she, as a white woman in a predominately poor immigrant neighborhood of Boston, is even more of an outsider. Even with the streets teeming with criminal activity, she's not intimidated. The police also aren't happy with her - that is probably more of a pride thing. Again she doesn't let the attitude stop her. They all wonder if she is some kind of scam artist - but she isn't looking for payment. She does have personal reasons for doing what she does.

I liked that the story focused just as much on Frankie's demons as the "ripped from the headlines" plot of a missing teen. Frankie's story is a mystery as well and just as she gradually gathers clues to Angelique's disappearance, readers gradually get clues to what happened in Frankie's past. I think her story is more shocking than what is revealed about Angelique's.

Frankie is one of the messier protagonists that I've read, yet she knows that her life is a mess - she makes no excuses. However, she also knows she is doing the best she can. The readers know it too, which is why you'll be rooting for her to not just solve this case but this time find the girl before it's too late. 

As Before She Disappeared isn't listed as part of a series, I'm not sure if we will get more stories with Frankie. I really enjoyed the secondary characters and, even though police procedurals aren't my favorite, I wouldn't mind a book feature Detective Lotham. That's the only way we are likely to see any of those characters again because in typical fashion, with the case closed, Frankie packs her meager belongings and with few good-byes, she walks out much how she walked in. Only that it is mentioned that she has already started the search for her next case gives a glimmer of hope that we will see Frankie again.

Buy Before She Disappeared at Amazon

Donna Huber is an avid reader and natural encourager. She is the founder of Girl Who Reads and the author of how-to marketing book Secrets to a Successful Blog Tour.

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  1. This sounds like a good one, I'll add it to my TBR list. Thank you!