If I had to describe All the Missing Girls by Megan Miranda in one word, I’m not sure I could. I could, however, do it in three words: twisty, creative, unique.
Ten years ago, Nic’s best friend, Corrine, goes missing without a trace. Despite police efforts, a pregnancy test, vague alibis, and a ring are all that they can dig up concerning Corrine’s disappearance, which remains a mystery to her entire small hometown. After the night Corrine disappeared, Nic left her small town in North Carolina and created a new life for herself in Philadelphia. But her brother, Daniel, calls and insists they must sell their childhood home, as their father is now in a care center due to his dementia and finances are becoming an issue. Reluctant at first because of her horrific memories, Nic decides she must return home to help fix up the house and get it ready to sell. However, another girl goes missing and the circumstances are very similar to Corrine’s disappearance. Over a two-week stretch of time, Nic discovers the secrets hidden in her small town and the lengths people will go to for the ones they love.
At first I was skeptical about the story being told backwards, and interested in how this worked in a mystery, but I ended up loving this plot device. It definitely made me think about what I know and how I know it. I felt like I was actively involved in solving the mystery, more so than if it was told chronologically. I’m not sure how Miranda achieved this, but it worked.
Miranda is also a great storyteller. Despite using tropes that are native to scary stories/movies (e.g., creaking doors, shadows, an older character (possibly) incorrectly remembering things), Miranda also weaves in some amazing metaphors and images that are buried in somewhat average/annoying dialogue and thoughts. I think I would categorize this story as realistically creepy–all of the events could happen.
I will say that, although I overall enjoyed reading from Nic’s perspective, her character was annoying sometimes–she “cringed” a lot. I remember reading another thriller book recently where the narrator “cringed” all the time and it just got to be too much.
I think there are a lot of twists to this story that were appropriate and never seemed unreasonable. Although I always know to never believe that the killer is the first person the narrative makes it seem, in All the Missing Girls, it was hard to pick just one person who I thought it was; I think I was changing my mind every chapter. And I was glad that I was left guessing; it was a page-turner until the very end.
To Read or Not to Read?
Three words to describe this book? Read, read, read!