Monday, November 27, 2017

Review: The Girl Who Was Taken by Charlie Donlea (audio)

Title: The Girl Who Was Taken
Author: Charlie Done
Narrator: Nina Alvamar
Published: April 2017, Recorded Books
Length: 10 hours 48 minutes
Source: Personal copy via Audible

Charlie Donlea, one of the most original new voices in suspense, returns with a haunting novel, laden with twists and high tension, about two abducted girls one who returns, one who doesn't and the forensics expert searching for answers.

Nicole Cutty and Megan McDonald are both high school seniors in the small town of Emerson Bay, North Carolina. When they disappear from a beach party one warm summer night, police launch a massive search. No clues are found, and hope is almost lost until Megan miraculously surfaces after escaping from a bunker deep in the woods.

A year later, the bestselling account of her ordeal has turned Megan from local hero to national celebrity. It s a triumphant, inspiring story, except for one inconvenient detail: Nicole is still missing. Nicole's older sister Livia, a fellow in forensic pathology, expects that one day soon Nicole's body will be found, and it will be up to someone like Livia to analyze the evidence and finally determine her sister's fate. Instead, the first clue to Nicole's disappearance comes from another body that shows up in Livia's morgue that of a young man connected to Nicole's past. Livia reaches out to Megan for help, hoping to learn more about the night the two were taken. Other girls have gone missing too, and Livia is increasingly certain the cases are connected.

But Megan knows more than she revealed in her blockbuster book. Flashes of memory are coming together, pointing to something darker and more monstrous than her chilling memoir describes. And the deeper she and Livia dig, the more they realize that sometimes true terror lies in finding exactly what you've been looking for.

My thoughts: I first became a fan of Charlie Donlea after listening to his debut novel, Summit Lake, last year. I loved that one, so it was with baited breath that I waited for his sophomore novel to be released...and I definitely wasn't disappointed!

Once again, we have a very solid mystery with a crazy twist at the end that I definitely did not see coming. This time around, it involves two abducted girls - one who returns and one who doesn't - a cult who focuses on kidnappings, and the forensic pathology fellow who is determined to get to the bottom of the case. 

I loved the way the story was told - two timelines, one in the present day, where Livia and Megan are working to put together what really happened that fateful night, and one in the past leading up to the kidnapping. As we get deeper into the story and each of the story lines are flushed out, it becomes clear who is involved and where it is all going - that's where the tension starts rising, that's where your heart starts beating frantically as you reach the conclusion.

I have to say that when we first meet Megan, I wasn't exactly a fan. I felt that she was a bit full of herself and all about seeking attention. But, as time goes on and we learn more about her, you start to realize that there is way more to her than meets the eye. She has substance to her and is really concerned about Nicole. By the end of the book, I really liked her a lot! 

This book kept me engaged from start to finish, with plenty of twists and turns. And I loved all the forensic details we are given - though, fair warning, it isn't really for the faint of heart! I do wish, though, that the book hadn't ended as it did...I would have loved a bit more about the why behind the kidnapper's motives or something. There didn't seem to be anything like that. And I would love to see more of Livia - she is such a great character...I think she would make a great protagonist in a series! Either way, I am definitely adding Charlie Donlea to my auto-read list...his books are just so good!

Audio thoughts: This was such a great book to listen to and I think Nina Alvamar did a fantastic job with the narration. Her pacing and tone were spot on and she gave all the characters their own unique voices. She really brings the characters to life with her narration.


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