Grace Is Gone

Harper. Jan. 2020. 352p. ISBN 9780062945631. pap. $16.99. SUSPENSE
Grace Nichols, suffering from a panoply of illnesses, and her mother, Meg, are the beloved center of their small town. Meg has put her own life on hold as she’s cared for her sick daughter into her teenage years—until the night Meg is murdered and Grace disappears. Jon, a down-on-his-luck journalist with a history with the family, and Cara, Grace’s only friend, awkwardly join forces to search for Grace, serving as narrators of separate chapters interspersed with Grace’s diary entries. What Jon and Cara find after placing themselves in significant peril is not what they expected. The underlying question of the book is whether murder can ever be justified and, in spite of the author’s attempt to deal with this in a balanced manner, this story itself answers the question unequivocally, even as it uncovers hidden secrets. Damaged characters abound, and the difficulty inherent in trying to uncover the truth about revered community members causes its own damage.
VERDICT This character-driven book will appeal especially to those who enjoy thrillers featuring people who are not what they seem to be, and readers who appreciate flawed but sympathetic characters. [See Prepub Alert, 7/8/19.]
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