5 stars out of 5
"It is quite true what philosophy says, that life must be understood backwards." --Kierkegaard
That quote certainly rings true of this book which, except for an introduction and an epilogue, is written backwards. It's a technique I've encountered only once before, in The October List by Jeffery Deaver (Grand Central Publishing, 2013). That one impressed the hell out of me, and I'm delighted to say this one did the same. The writing is outstanding, even more so, in my mind, at least, considering the difficulty of telling a story from conclusion to beginning.
I'll also note, though, that it's a little bit more difficult for the reader as well; most likely because of our being accustomed to the standard progression in the books we read, it just seems harder to remember what happened after when you're in the middle of the before (if that makes any sense at all). Bottom line is that somewhere in the middle the thought occurred to me that the easiest way to read this one is in one sitting - but then again, I'm old and my short-term memory is, shall we say, errs on the side of "Hey, honey, why did I just walk into the kitchen?"
Nicolette Farrell left relatively secluded Cooley Ridge not long after her best friend, Corinne, went missing (now, a decade later, she's never been found). Leaving her Philadelphia attorney fiance Elliott, Nic returns "home" to look after her dementia-sidelined father, only to find that her roots have sprouted - and some have grown in directions she's reluctant to follow. She once again touches base with her brother Daniel, with whom she has a volatile relationship, to say the least; his very pregnant wife, Laura, her back-in-the-day boyfriend Tyler - who's now dating Annaleise Carter - and Corinne's former boyfriend Jackson. Nicolette is there only a few days before Annaleise goes missing as well.
That's when the story starts winding counter-clockwise, starting with Day 15, the day Annaleise disappears. From then on, each backward-looking chapter peels back another layer of information that leads to the disturbing truth. That also marks the end of story details for this review, because anything else would reveal way too much. My advice? Read it for yourself - I don't think you'll be sorry. As for me, all I can say is thank you to the publisher and author for giving me the privilege of reading an advance copy in exchange for a review.
Oh yes, and one other thing: Wow!
All the Missing Girls by Megan Miranda (Simon & Schuster, June 2016); 384 pp.