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Thanks to NetGalley and Dutton for providing an eARC in exchange for an honest review.

Release Date: January 19th, 2021

400 Pages

Synopsis: Frankie Elkin is an average middle-aged woman, a recovering alcoholic with more regrets than belongings. But she spends her life doing what no one else will—searching for missing people the world has stopped looking for. When the police have given up, when the public no longer remembers, when the media has never paid attention, that when Frankie starts looking.

A new case brings her to Mattapan, a Boston neighborhood with a rough reputation. She is searching for Angelique Badeau, a Haitian teenage who vanished from her high school months earlier. Resistance from the Boston PD and the victim’s wary family, tells Frankie she’s on her own—and she soon learns she’s asking questions someone doesn’t want answered. But Frankie will stop at nothing to discover the truth, even if it means the next person to go missing could be her.

Before She Disappeared is Lisa Gardner’s first standalone in twenty years, and I have to say after devouring it in two nights, I’m keeping my fingers crossed that she writes more books about Frankie Elkin.

Frankie is an extremely complex woman whose traumatic backstory is tantalizingly teased out throughout the course of the story. I really connected with this troubled, flawed character who dragged herself out of the abyss of substance abuse (with help), and instead uses her demons to help look for those who have gone missing and have basically been forgotten by everyone except by their loved ones. My only criticism is that her detecting skills came off a little too expert for someone who’s a layperson, but this is a very minor complaint. The mystery itself is very compelling and I admit the final outcome caught me by surprise. In addition, the story also thoughtfully explores the inequality between how victims of crime are treated according to race and socioeconomic status. And finally, having lived north of Boston my entire life until a couple of years ago, Gardner captured the multicultural flavor of Mattapan perfectly. The ending ties everything up, but as I said, I’m really hoping that maybe this won’t be the last we see of Frankie. 

Before She Disappeared is a completely engrossing read and I believe fans of Lisa Gardner will be thrilled with it. If you haven’t read anything yet by this prolific bestselling author, this is a perfect book to start with, so treat yourself and check it out!