Book Review — Before She Disappeared by Lisa Gardner

Frankie Elkin is a recovering alcoholic and amateur sleuth who travels to a new place to find a missing person when the police have given up or have reached a dead end. She’s cunning, determined, and has nothing to lose– a scary combination that helps her find the missing. Haunted by the missing people she’s found previously and past regrets, Frankie, consumes herself with the next case. This one brings her to Mattapan, MA to find Angelique Badeau, a Haitian teenage girl. There are twist and turns that lead to a compelling story about a woman who won’t give up until she’s found those that have disappeared.

This book is quickly paced and exciting throughout. The ending isn’t super easy to figure out and this leads to an engaging mystery and thriller as readers scramble to put the pieces together along with Frankie and Boston Police Department Detective Lotham. Lisa Gardner is a fantastic writer. Each character is complex and realistic, the communities in Boston are written about with respect and nuance, and the intricate complexity of alcoholism is handled with care.

  • Frankie Elkin is a bad ass. She’s endearing with her need to find and admirable with her honesty about her demons. She has a way of treating people at their level– no bullshit, regardless of their background.
  • Underneath, the main plot of finding Angelique Badeau, Gardner also writes about Haitian culture and the immigrant experience. She talked about African Americans and Haitians in Boston without falling into the trap of using stereotypes.
  • Lisa Gardner says that this book goes out to all the amateur sleuths helping find the missing. It’s incredible the work these people do on their own time and dime.
  • I honestly can’t think of any. I’ve been in Boston for a few years now and I think that if I was native, I’m sure I could find something to complain about, but it’s clear that Gardner did her research– even walking the streets here.

Have you read the book? Let me know your thoughts in the comments!

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