[I received a copy of this book from its Canadian publisher Penguin Random House Canada. This does not affect my review of the novel.]
Imagine: your husband surprises you and your two young children with a luxurious vacation in Mexico to celebrate your 10th anniversary. Imagine: on the night of your anniversary dinner, your youngest child, 2, goes missing. Imagine: fifteen years later, after being constantly hounded by the press, a young woman calls you claiming to be your daughter. Imagine getting to watch every detail unfold in Joy Fielding’s latest mystery She’s Not There…
Before I started reading this book I had heard other bloggers mentioning that they had read the book in one day. Well, I was in the mood for a quick and engrossing read this weekend, and I gladly fell into the group of readers who couldn’t put this book down until it was finished. I’ve completely embraced crime fiction, my friends!
Joy Fielding does a great job of transporting her readers into the various situations her characters go through in She’s Not There: I held my breath as I read the exchange between Caroline and maybe-Samantha; I felt tense when Caroline and her other daughter, Michelle, couldn’t stop arguing; I traveled alongside the Shipleys as they followed an intriguing lead on a crazy whim… But, it was not just my emotional response to this book that made me love it so much; I was also fascinated by the way Fielding crafted her characters and the way they each handled the same incident differently. I read on a friend’s blog (I forget where at the moment – sorry!! If I am quoting you, can you please leave your link in the comments so I can give you credit?) that crime fiction/thrillers are essentially studies of human choices and how those choices play out as consequences. Reading She’s Not There made me wonder: what would I have done if I were Caroline? How would I have reacted if my child went missing? What would my life look like? In the end, not only did She’s Not There provide a bit of escapism for a day, it also made me look inward and wonder.
Verdict: A really well-paced and well-plotted novel that will lure you in and hold your attention until the very last page. This was my first Fielding book, but I’m excited to read more from her.
Read if: You’ve ever wondered how you would react if a child went missing on your watch, you enjoy fast-paced thrillers, want to see why Joy Fielding is so (rightfully) beloved.
Are you a Joy Fielding fan? What are your favourite mysteries/thrillers?