Monday, January 18, 2021

Review: Before She Disappeared by Lisa Gardner (audio)

Title: Before She Disappeared
Author: Lisa Gardner
Narrator: Hillary Huber
Published: January 2020, Brilliance Audio / Dutton
Length: 12 hours 7 minutes / 400 pages
Source: Audio - Brilliance Audio / Print - Dutton Books

From #1 New York Times bestselling author Lisa Gardner, a propulsive thriller featuring an ordinary woman who will stop at nothing to find the missing people that the rest of the world has forgotten

Frankie Elkin is an average middle-aged woman, a recovering alcoholic with more regrets than belongings. But she spends her life doing what no one else will--searching for missing people the world has stopped looking for. When the police have given up, when the public no longer remembers, when the media has never paid attention, Frankie starts looking.

A new case brings her to Mattapan, a Boston neighborhood with a rough reputation. She is searching for Angelique Badeau, a Haitian teenager who vanished from her high school months earlier. Resistance from the Boston PD and the victim's wary family tells Frankie she's on her own--and she soon learns she's asking questions someone doesn't want answered. But Frankie will stop at nothing to discover the truth, even if it means the next person to go missing could be her.

My thoughts: It's no secret that I am a HUGE Lisa Gardner fan. I've read all her Detective D.D. Warren books and many of the books in her other series. When I saw that the author was writing her first stand-alone novel in 20 years, I knew I had to read it, and I loved it!

One thing about Lisa Gardner's books is that while they can be a bit dark, they are incredibly addicting. I was completely captivated by this story and because I listened to it, I found myself walking just a little bit longer or doing just a little bit more cleaning because I did not want to stop listening. 

I also love that we are once again given an incredibly strong main character. Frankie Elkin is not without her own problems, but she is a force to be reckoned with - and I love characters like this. Yes, she is deeply flawed but that's what makes her so interesting. I couldn't wait to get into her backstory as much as I wanted to see what she was going to do about the missing girl. This was an instance where I was as invested in the main character as much as the plot she was involved in, if that makes any sense.

This is such a multilayered story that keeps you on the edge of your seat. Frankie is such a fantastic new character and I loved the way she takes her anger about her past and channels that into solving the missing person cases she takes on, cases that have gone cold and everyone else has given up on. I loved her determination and grit, and her never-give-up attitude. And let's not forget all the interesting and intriguing characters we meet that Frankie either needs on her side for the case or meets at the bar where she works to make some money while staying in the area.

This book kept me guessing all the way through and I had no idea where it was headed. The suspense builds quite nicely and the ending took me by surprise. While this is marked as a stand-alone now, the way it ends leaves the possibly that Lisa Gardner could come back and revisit Frankie Elkin one day and nothing would make me happier! I would definitely love to see this turn into a series!

Audio thoughts: This was a stellar audio book. Hillary Huber brought her A-game to narrate this one and I absolutely loved it! Her pacing and intonation were spot on and she infused just the right amount of tension and emotion into her voice as necessary. There was even the right humor inflected into her voice when needed, particularly anytime Piper the cat was involved! I'm quite familiar with Hillary Huber and know when I see her name listed as the narrator, I'm in good hands!


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