Before She Disappeared by Lisa Gardner

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Before She Disappeared by Lisa Gardner

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Category: Thrillers
Rating: 4.5/5
Reviewer: Sue Magee
Reviewed by Sue Magee
Summary: Frankie Elkin looks for missing people: she devotes her life to it and goes wherever someone seems to have been forgotten about. So far she's found fourteen people but they were all dead. Will Angelique Badeau be any different? Highly recommended.
Buy? Yes Borrow? Yes
Pages: 400 Date: January 2021
Publisher: Century
External links: Author's website
ISBN: 978-1529124415

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Frankie Elkin found Lani Whitehorse's body in her car at the bottom of the lake. She knew that the twenty-two-year-old waitress wouldn't have left her three-year-old daughter and run away. Lani was the fourteenth missing person to be located by Frankie and now she's moving on again, this time to Boston where there's a strong Haitian community which was home to Angelique Lovelie Badeau until her disappearance eleven months ago. Frankie, middle-aged and white, gets a job and accommodation at Stoney's bar and sets out to investigate the community which is just about exclusively black.

Frankie Elkin is an addict. It was alcohol but she's been dry for more than nine years now and being around alcohol doesn't worry her. Stress does, though and like many addicts, she's simply replaced one addiction with another. Now her addiction is searching for missing people and it would seem that she's been more successful than a middle-aged woman without training has any right to expect. Frankie's working off some guilt and her great regret is that of the people she's found, not one was alive. Will Angelique - Angel to her friends and Lili to her family - be different.

Not much has happened in the investigation of late. The police seem to think that the probability is that sixteen-year-old Angelique has run away, but her family know differently. Lili and her brother Emmanuel are living with their aunt in Boston after the earthquake in Haiti but their visas will expire and they could be forced to return home. Lili wants to get a student visa, to become a doctor so that she will be able to stay in the States. She's even prepared to take extra classes. Then one day, eleven months ago, she walked out of school and disappeared.

Oh, but this is a good story. Why would a gifted student who seemed to have a great future run away? Why would she leave the brother whom she adored? Frankie knows that she wouldn't and Emmanuel realises that, unlikely as it seems, he can trust Frankie more than he could trust the police. Angelique has been clever: she obviously has some autonomy but isn't able to come home and she's leaving clues about what is happening. Then it becomes obvious that another girl has been held: her family are not exactly close and loving and didn't bother to report her disappearance to the police. The school didn't pursue her non-attendance but when Angelique Badeau and Livia Samdi are put together, a world of possibilities opens up.

My first experience of Lisa Gardner was Never Tell, which I finished within twenty-four hours, despite having planned to read it over a week - and that was a book from a long-running series. Before She Disappeared is a stand-alone and was even easier to slip into and be unwilling to put down. Angelique might be absent but her character spirals out into the story and it's impossible not to root for her. I was there behind Frankie Elkins too: a fighter if ever I met one and someone with obvious mental problems who's determined that they won't defeat her. I loved every moment of the book and I'd like to thank the publishers for letting Bookbag have a review copy.

You might also enjoy another tale of a missing young woman: The Long Dark Road by P R Black.

Lisa Gardner's Frankie Elkin Novels in Chronological Order

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