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.