All the Missing Girls – Megan Miranda
Reviewer: Lesley Vick
It’s been ten years since Nicolette Farrell left her rural hometown after her best friend, Corinne, disappeared without trace. Then a letter from her father arrives – ‘I need to talk to you. That girl. I saw that girl’. Has her father’s dementia worsened, or has he really seen Corinne? Returning home, Nicolette must finally face what happened on that terrible night all those years ago.
Then another young woman goes missing, almost to the day of the anniversary when Corinne vanished. And, like ten years ago, the whole town is a suspect.
Told backwards – day 15 to day 1– Nicolette works to unravel the truth, revealing shocking secrets about her friends, her family, and what really happened to Corinne.
Review by Lesley Vick
While it may annoy some readers, the unconventional narrative structure of this book is an interesting device and it works quite well. Evolving over 15 days and told in reverse the story really begins ten years earlier when Nicolette’s friend, and leader of the girls in town, Corinne, disappeared. The events on the night she disappeared are gradually disclosed via flashbacks and Nicolette has to relive these events when she returns to her home town, Cooley Ridge, to assist her brother Daniel in preparing their family home for sale to pay for their father’s care now he has dementia.
Despite his dementia, the father’s claim that he has seen the missing girl cannot be ignored. As the reader learns more about the missing Corinne, she emerges as a somewhat dominant, compelling and manipulative individual – a mean girl among her group of friends. She was always pushing the limits of her friends’ loyalty and ‘daring’ others to take risks. Nicolette’s fiancé, lawyer Everett, who was not able to accompany her home, is appalled by Nicolette’s stories about the relationship with Corinne. Nicolette’s relationships with her brother, his pregnant wife Laura and her old boyfriend, Tyler, from ten years before are also rather fraught. Then the woman Tyler is now dating, Annaliese, also disappears.
Are the two disappearances linked?
Corinne’s former boyfriend Jackson still lives in Cooley Ridge so all the people who were present when Corinne disappeared are present again when Annaliese goes missing. Annaliese provided an alibi for some of the friends when Corinne disappeared and they all clearly have something to hide. Nicolette’s usual strength and independence start to desert her as her anxiety rises. She detects things being moved around her house (which has a broken lock) and she does not know who to trust. Everett does eventually come to help but the tense situation places great stress on the relationship. T
he story is well written and suspense maintained but some of the characters are not fully developed. The male characters are presented as lacking self-control, even violent – particularly towards women – while the women (and their teenage selves) are not very likeable. The resolution of the mystery is unexpected, somewhat unsettling and quite revealing about human nature.