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Local Girl Missing

Last Seen Alive by Claire Douglas

514-fU+PfcLLibby Hall, the school teacher who saved a child from a burning building, should be revelling in her new-found hero status. Instead it has brought back memories of what took place nine years ago – the last time she saw her friend, Karen, alive. So when she has the opportunity to put it all behind her and undergo a holiday house swap with a couple in picturesque Cornwall, it seems like the ideal way to solve the problem. All is not what it seems, however, and soon Libby feels that she is being watched and she begins to mistrust even the person closest to her – her husband, Jamie. Just what is happening to her and is it linked to the terrifying events of nine years ago?

From the start, I was suspicious about the circumstances behind the house swap. It was plain to see that the couple had been targeted but we do not find out why or by whom until much later in the book. Although Libby and Jamie are spending time in a spacious house in the vast Cornish countryside, the author has created a setting which is extremely claustrophobic and unsettling as we learn to anticipate that something untoward is about to happen. There were several times when I was urging Libby to trust her instincts and get away from a potentially dangerous situation and I could understand the reasons behind her falling suspicious of her husband as he tried to convince her that all was well.

In books of this genre, you become accustomed to there being a twist involved and, indeed, there was one in Last Seen Alive. I was convinced that I had the plot all worked out, only to find that I could not be more wrong! There was a certain point in the book where I had to completely reevaluate everything I thought I knew, making me think carefully about everything that I had already read. Just when I thought I finally had it all worked out, another curveball was thrown, making me gasp once again!

I thought that the previous book from the author, Local Girl Missing, was good but Last Seen Alive even manages to eclipse it! A gripping, claustrophobic delight of a book that I cannot recommend highly enough.

With thanks to Penguin UK – Michael Joseph and NetGalley for my ARC.

Local Girl Missing by Claire Douglas

Out of the blue, Francesca Howe receives a phone call. It’s the call she has dreaded for so long: the body of her best friend, Sophie Collier, has been found. Last seen nearly twenty years previously, the only clue was a trainer that had been left behind on an old pier. Convinced that someone knows more than they are saying, Sophie’s brother, Daniel, summons Francesca (or ‘Frankie’ as she was known when she was younger) back to the seaside town where it all happened to assist with his enquiries. Soon, though, as ghosts from the past emerge, she wishes she had stayed away. Someone out there knows something, but will it be at the expense of another life?

Having one of the main characters die in the first chapter is certainly one way of drawing you into the book! From the outset, it is obvious that there is much more to the story than a simple ‘whodunnit’ and the further Frankie and Daniel probe, even more secrets from the past threaten to rise to the surface. Just who is sending Frankie threatening notes and what secret are they referring to?

The story is told from the point of view of the two main protagonists. With Frankie, of couse, we explore the investigation being undertaken by herself and Daniel and also find out about her life at the time Sophie went missing. Sophie’s story is told in a series of diary entries which contain clues (and red herrings) about what exactly happened to her. The character of Sophie is that of a tragic young woman who has gone through so much in her short life whereas Frankie is the girl who appears to have it all. Appearances can be deceiving, however, and it is definitely a case of no one really knows what goes on behind closed doors.

The book contains numerous twists and turns and the ending was not one I saw coming. There was one aspect of the plot that I had figured out but even that wasn’t fully! I had one issue with the ending but, thankfully, the epilogue contained at the end explained my concern.

In Local Girl Missing, Claire Douglas has succeeded in creating an edge of your seat thriller with a satisfying ending. Well, I say  ‘satisfying’, there still could be another incident waiting to be played out…

With thanks to Net Galley and Penguin UK – Michael Joseph for the copy of the book.

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