Friday, 5 August 2016

Local Girl Missing - Claire Douglas - secrets by the sea

My Review

The cover drew me to this book, isn't it great? It really sums the brooding and secretive feel of this dark thriller about secrets from your past coming back to haunt you.

Local Girl Missing is a title that sounds like a newspaper headline and that's what it was, when 18 years ago Teenager Sophie leaves a nightclub in a small seaside town and disappears leaving no trace but a trainer at the end of the pier she becomes the notorious "Local girl - missing" that nobody ever forgets about years later.

Her childhood friend Francesca, now known as Frankie and living in London successfully working in boutique hotels, receives an unexpected phone call from the past, Sophie's brother Daniel is calling to say at last Sophie's body has been washed up and begs her to return to Somerset to help him find out once and for all just what did happen that night on the pier and help him lay Sophie's ghost to rest.

The book captures the claustrophobic atmosphere of small town living, it has a spooky feel and there are lots of unanswered questions. The story is told in alternating time lines of now when Frankie is back in Oldcliffe-on-sea and back in the past when the girls were teenagers and harks back to even earlier which is narrated by Sophie. It's clear there are a lot of people who might have been involved in her disappearance and lots of red herrings to beguile us and lead us up the wrong track.

Its also apparent that Frankie is covering something up and soon we discover that she's been keeping Mum about what happened earlier in the 2 girls lives to a mutual friend called Jason. She is proven to be good at keeping secrets has she been hiding something else? She keeps seeing and feeling strange things, are they real or is she losing her sanity, or is someone deliberately taunting her and why?

The storyline is full of teenage jealousies and desires, friendship and betrayal. The setting is ominous and unsettling and there are lots of twists and turns, yet for all theres lots going on it can feel sluggish and morose but sucks you in nevertheless.

If you liked Broadchurch this has a similar brooding, insular feel and as many characters you will mistrust and dislike. I did feel the characters lacked a certain depth which stopped me investing a great deal of emotion into the book, yet its a riveting and nostalgic thriller with a rather tense and shadowy feel and an intriguing finale.

My thanks go to Netgalley for my advance copy.

The Blurb


Twenty years ago 21-year-old Sophie Collier vanishes one night. She leaves nothing behind but a trainer on the old pier - and a hole in the heart of her best friend Francesca. Now A body's been found. And Francesca's drawn back to the seaside town she's tried to forget. 
Perhaps the truth of what happened to Sophie will finally come out. 
Yet Francesca is beginning to wish she hadn't returned. Everywhere she turns are ghosts from her past. 
The same old faces and familiar haunts of her youth. But if someone knows what really happened to Sophie that night then now's the time to find out - isn't it? 
Except sometimes discovering the truth can cost you everything you hold dear - your family, your sanity and even your life . . .

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