Today I am marking off my fourth #4 checkpoint category for the POPSUGAR READING CHALLENGE 2020 with:
From the Sunday Times bestselling author of Local Girl Missing and Do Not Disturb – an unputdownable story about a woman who snaps, and what her crime will stir up . . .
That summer, the three girls had the world at their feet.
Now, one is missing.
On a summer’s night in 1994, sixteen-year-old Flora Powell vanished from her sleepy seaside town. She left no trace – only heartache for her mother and her sister, Heather.
And one is a murderer.
Twenty-five years later, Heather walks into a stranger’s house. There, the loving wife and doting new mother kills two people in cold blood.
So only one remains . . .
Jess is sent to report on the case that shocked the hometown she left behind. But it’s anything but business to her. She was like a sister to the Powell girls, until the summer that tore them all apart.
Can Jess find the key to both their mysteries? Or will her search reveal a darker side to the place she grew up – and put her in danger?
British domestic crime fiction and The Sunday Times bestselling author Claire Douglas has five thrilling books to her name now, after the release of Then She Vanishes in 2019. Douglas’ latest is a dark and secret filled novel, based around family relationships and a friendship from times past. Then She Vanishes makes its entry with a shocking and unexplained crime, that overshadows the length of this compelling novel.
Two crimes underline the latest thriller offering from Claire Douglas. Then She Vanishes revolves around the lives of Heather and Jess, once best friends as teenagers, but their friendship was turned on its head after Heather’s older sister Flora disappeared. Years later, Heather has committed an awful crime that is making headlines. Jess is now a disgraced journalist and she must return to her home town, the site of Heather’s crime, to report on this uncharacteristic story. In dealing with this shocking crime, Jess is forced to interrogate the details of Flora’s disappearance, revealing a litany of long held secrets, lies and uncomfortable truths.
Author Gillian McAllister has declared Then She Vanishes ‘a twisty whydunnit’. I think this is a perfect description of Claire Douglas’ latest. From the paralysing prologue, my eyes remained firmly fixed on Then She Vanishes until the bitter end.
Then She Vanishes is a two for one deal novel. We have a dual timeline narrative that switches between the year 1994 and 2012. In the past, we are confronted with the disappearance of a sixteen year old girl. While in the 2012 thread, we are issued with a perplexing crime to solve based on a murder of two people at gunpoint, by the sister of the missing teenager. Both timelines link, overlap and present a shocking series of revelations held by the characters in the story. As I have to come realise with Claire Douglas’ novels, nothing is ever as it seems with the situations she presents.
I was reminded by how highly I rate Douglas’ characterisation while reading Then She Vanishes, it really is first-class. Each of the characters are a slight enigma, which slowly unveils as the book progresses and pertinent details about each case is revealed. I was desperate to work Heather out and what motivated her to conduct such a heinous crime, that seemed to be unprovoked. Likewise, the 1994 storyline allows us to develop a strong understanding of Flora. In Margot, the girl’s mother, we see a woman consumed by a terrible crime in the past. While Jess, the lead character, seems to drive the story forward. There are also a good collection of supporting characters that all contribute to this perplexing tale.
There are some strong and resounding themes that rotate around Then She Vanishes. From guarded secrets, teenage rebellion, friendships, parental relationships, sibling rivalry, career crisis, mental illness, loss, post-natal depression and revenge. These topics are underscored by Jess’ investigations and thought patterns as a journalist, exposing a story for the press. Douglas also includes excerpts of Jess’ articles about the cases presented in Then She Vanishes in between the narrative.
It is a tension filled race to the end, with the reader remaining on the outer until the last chapter. I did do a double take and a re-read once I got to the final chapter of the book, as I couldn’t believe how it all panned out. Then She Vanishes is another disquieting tale, from a leading writer in the field of contemporary crime and domestic based fiction.
**** 4.5 stars
Then She Vanishes by Claire Douglas was published on 20th August 2019 by Penguin Books Australia. Details on how to purchase the book can be found here.
To learn more about the author of Then She Vanishes, Claire Douglas, visit here.