When the Stars Go Dark

Ballantine. Apr. 2021. 384p. ISBN 9780593237892. $28. SUSPENSE
After a devastating tragedy, missing persons detective Anna Hart leaves San Francisco and heads to her hometown of Mendocino, CA. Hoping to find the solitude she needs to heal her shattered heart and troubled marriage, she arrives in the small town certain that it offers nothing but bad memories. From the mother who died on Christmas Day to the high school friend found strangled and dumped in a creek, everywhere she looks, Anna sees misfortune. It’s 1993, and the abduction of 12-year-old Polly Klaas is in the news, while Anna is drawn into the hunt for a missing 15-year-old girl. Alongside her high school friend—now the sheriff—Will Flood, she battles for resources as the FBI and the media focus on the higher-profile Klaas case. Despite her belief that her job destroyed her marriage, Anna feels compelled to search for the missing teen, somehow knowing that her own path to redemption depends on the outcome of the case.
VERDICT This melancholy but gripping tale uses backstory and flashbacks to propel the mystery forward. Part suspense, part self-discovery tale, this first attempt at crime fiction from historical fiction author McLain (The Paris Wife) is hard to resist. Fans of the author’s other works will not be disappointed.
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