Published by Harper
Publication date: April 14th 2015
Kimberly McCreight’s new novel Where They Found Her opens with the discovery of an infant’s body on a college campus. Freelance reporter Molly Sanderson gets the assignment to cover the case for the local paper and McCreight frontloads the drama by sharing that Molly gave birth to a stillborn child a year ago and is only now re-entering the workforce. Thankfully, this bit of heavy-handed foreplay is not indicative of McCreight’s skill at generating suspense. Instead, she parses out the tension in small increments by adding two additional narrators, both of whom have something to hide.
Where They Found Her takes place in one of those bucolic towns where murder doesn’t happen. Until it does and Molly begins digging to find other unexplained tragedies in the town’s history. Even in the present day, the underbelly of small town life is not so clean. Sandy is a teenager forced to be the parent to her irresponsible mother and Barbara is a controlling helicopter mother. Sandy’s mother has disappeared and Barbara’s young son has suddenly become almost catatonic. That they fall on the opposite side of the respectability spectrum only helps to balance this tale of past indiscretions, high school jealousies, lies and cover-ups.
McCreight has shown herself to be well versed in the art of perception versus reality. Her debut novel Reconstructing Amelia was a gripping look at a woman whose daughter kills herself after being caught cheating in school and the aftermath of the girl’s suicide. In Where They Found Her she continues to give her characters heft with lives and issues that move beyond the surface mystery. This works for and against the novel in that the majority of these characters serve an integral purpose to the story as a whole but there are a few whose drama generates unnecessary smokescreens. That aside, Where They Found Her is a satisfying read for suspense aficionados.
Sarah's Book Shelves says
I thought this was a great page turner…but, that’s a great point about the unnecessary smokescreens…I definitely felt that a fair amount. But, she did keep me guessing and that’s ultimately what I want out of a thriller.
Sarah's Book Shelves says
Also – I wrote a spoiler discussion post about this one if you want to check it out.
Agreed, Sarah! I did not guess the ending which is my test of whether a mystery works or not.
Beth @ Fuelled by Fcition says
I totally agree about the “unnecessary smokescreens”! I felt the same way. That aside, I did really enjoy this mystery. I did liked Reconstructing Amelia better though! In Where They Found Her you do get pretty deep into the characters, but they are often viewed on their own. I preferred how in Reconstructing Amelia the mystery often played second fiddle to the exploration of the mother-daughter relationship.
I agree completely about liking Reconstructing Amelia more. It was a whole different perspective in that he mystery felt secondary to this mother’s relationship with her daughter.
Tara @ Running 'N' Reading says
Catherine, I’d seen this one around and then read Sarah’s (above) review after she finished; I’m definitely interested in reading this one! Thanks so much for sharing your thoughts!
Melinda @ The Book Musings says
I’m not huge on suspense novels, but this sounds nice. I do think I’d much rather read Reconstructing Amelia before I would pick this one up.