Local Girl Missing

Strap in. Claire Douglas's Local Girl Missing is a swift and twisted ride through crazy town. Winner of the Marie Claire debut novel award for Sisters, Douglas has written another "who's putting one over on whom?" barn-burner that is utterly absorbing despite some over-the-top drama.

Posh Frankie Howe and shy, plain Sophie Collier were best mates from the age of seven, growing up in Oldcliffe-on-Sea. In 1997, Sophie disappeared after a night on the town, a lone shoe found by the decrepit old pier on Bristol Channel. Eighteen years later, Sophie's brother Daniel calls Frankie, now managing her father's hotels in London, and asks her to come back home. A foot wearing Sophie's matching trainer has washed ashore and Daniel wants Frankie to help him determine his sister's fate once and for all.

Despite her misgivings, Frankie relents and, wearing her stiletto ankle boots (perfect for amateur sleuthing), moves into the temporary apartment Daniel arranges for her. Circumstances turn eerie almost immediately: Frankie hears a baby crying all night in the supposedly empty complex, her car is vandalized, threatening notes are left on her doorstep and she swears she sees Sophie's ghost around town.

Alternating perspectives between Frankie's present and Sophie's past, Douglas knits a compelling narrative that will suck readers in and keep them guessing with tidbits of past and present promises, secrets and betrayals. A marvelous mash-up of Peyton Place and Gaslight, Local Girl Missing is fun and satisfying summer escapism at its finest. --Lauren O'Brien of Malcolm Avenue Review

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