Local Woman Missing by Mary Kubica
|Local Woman Missing by Mary Kubica|
|Reviewer: Sue Magee|
|Summary: When two women and a child go missing there should be some explanation. It will take many years for the whole story to unravel and when it does, it's jaw-dropping.|
|Buy? Yes||Borrow? Yes|
|Pages: 352||Date: May 2021|
|External links: Author's website|
Eleven years ago, a man regularly came home to his wife with lipstick marks on his collar and lame excuses as to why he was late - again. His wife was in the habit of going out for a run late at night. It was the only time she had for herself when she didn't have to look after her baby - but when she was out she would meet up with a man, grateful for the unquestioning affection he gave her. The locality was stunned when Shelby Tebow disappeared, seemingly without a trace, leaving her husband to look after her disabled baby. Ten days later, a local woman and her six-year-old daughter disappeared. Meredith Dickey was a birth doula and she'd seemed to be under some strain for the last couple of weeks or so. Her body was eventually found in a seedy motel - it appeared that she'd committed suicide. She left a note saying that her daughter, Delilah, was safe and there was no point in looking for her.
Meredith's death left her husband, Josh, to look after and raise their son, Leo, who was only four when his mother disappeared. Life wasn't easy for Josh and Leo but it looked as though their problems were solved when Delilah returned to them. She'd escaped from the cellar where she'd been held for eleven years. Although she was seventeen, her growth had been stunted, she was filthy and malnourished and had little memory of her life before she was snatched. She calls Josh and Leo sir and has difficulty sleeping anywhere other than the basement floor. The family had hoped that Delilah's return would free them - but it hasn't.
The story gradually unravels as Josh and Leo's neighbours - Kate and Bea - tell their side of the story and we hear from Meredith too. We add to - and occasionally subtract from, what we think we know. Both Shelby Tebow and Meredith Dickey were parties to a malpractice suit against a doctor. Could this have anything to do with what has happened? Their disappearance makes the suit difficult to pursue. When Kate tries to talk to Dr Feingold, who delivered Shelby's baby, she finds that she's bitten off far more than she can chew. Her partner's furious with her for putting them both in danger. There's a palpable air of menace as you read: I had to keep looking away from the page.
The characterisation is superb: they all come off the page and convince you. The plotting has been carefully done. The denouement is jaw-dropping but I wasn't completely convinced: it's a minor quibble though in an otherwise excellent book. I'd like to thank the publishers for letting Bookbag have a review copy.
Meredith was a birth doula. For a story about a death doula we can recommend The Book of Two Ways by Jodi Picoult.
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