#ATBR2021 – Before She Disappeared by Lisa Gardner

The newest from Lisa Gardner is here!

Thanks to Dutton for the free early copies in exchange for our honest reviews

BEFORE SHE DISAPPEARED – Lisa Gardner (Released January 19th, 2021)

Book Description:

From #1 New York Times bestselling author Lisa Gardner, a propulsive thriller featuring an ordinary woman who will stop at nothing to find the missing people that the rest of the world has forgotten

Frankie Elkin is an average middle-aged woman, a recovering alcoholic with more regrets than belongings. But she spends her life doing what no one else will–searching for missing people the world has stopped looking for. When the police have given up, when the public no longer remembers, when the media has never paid attention, Frankie starts looking.

A new case brings her to Mattapan, a Boston neighborhood with a rough reputation. She is searching for Angelique Badeau, a Haitian teenager who vanished from her high school months earlier. Resistance from the Boston PD and the victim’s wary family tells Frankie she’s on her own–and she soon learns she’s asking questions someone doesn’t want answered. But Frankie will stop at nothing to discover the truth, even if it means the next person to go missing could be her.

Chandra’s Thoughts: 4/5 stars

A little birdie told me this was Gardner’s first standalone – WHAAAAAAT..  but then I looked back and realized the last five books I’ve read by her were series books!  Either way, she is absolutely one of my favorite authors! As usual, this is an addictive and moderately paced read and she brings us another flawed but very lovable MC with Frankie Elkin.

Finally, instead of a protagonist woman being drunk all the time and wondering why she can’t remember things, we have Frankie who is a recovering alcoholic, standing strong in her sobriety.  She travels from town to town to solve missing person cases.  She has very few possessions and works mostly as a bartendar because she’s damn good at it, and it actually keeps her straight, even if it can be tempting at times.  

We get a little peep into her past but it’s secondary to the case at hand… or so it seems.. because I didn’t realize how invested I was until those last couple of pages and then OH MY HEART.  That wasn’t the added emotional tugging scene I needed right after the tearing up at her and Stoney. Gardner, you got me.  

Readers: while this isn’t a police procedural, it does tend to read like one at times and is character driven. While I was absolutely curious as to what was going on with missing girl, Angelique, I found myself more drawn to Frankie’s story.  She’s worth getting involved with and I hope she pops up in one of Gardener’s other books.

My Thoughts: 4/5 stars

I think this is one of the first standalone novels I’ve read by Gardner in a long time! I love her DD Warren series, so while I can’t wait for the next installment, BEFORE SHE DISAPPEARED was another thrilling ride with a new character.

Our main character, Frankie, is a woman determined to find those who are missing. She is a recovering alcoholic who is trying to do more good in her life. The cases that the police have given up on or are forgotten, are the ones she focuses on. She has been successful many times and her next case brings her to a Boston town, Mattapan, to find a missing teenage girl. Of course, poking around in a town wary of the police is going to draw unwanted attention. Frankie goes to any lengths necessary to get the answers she needs, but is that going to put her in harm’s way?

I think what worked really well for me with this was that it wasn’t a typical police procedural mystery. Of course it isn’t going to be, because Frankie isn’t a police officer. I loved learning that Gardner took some inspiration from real life and I think that gave this a level of authenticity. It was nice meeting a new character and I love Gardner’s writing and how she builds the suspense. I will continue to pick up whatever she releases – standalones and more in her series.

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