First line: "It isn't until afterward that I think about the bag or the bloody towels stuffed inside."
Kimberly McCreight follows up her outstanding debut with a suspense novel of equal weight and mystery. Where They Found Her is the story of a dead newborn and the small college town dealing with the trauma of her discovery as the police work to uncover the parents' identities.
Molly Sanderson is a young mother recovering from the severe depression she experienced after the miscarriage of her second daughter. She and her husband Justin have recently moved to Ridgedale in order for Justin to take a teaching job at the local university. Molly is working as the arts editor for the small local newspaper, but a perfect storm of events leaves her as the only staff member who can cover a breaking news story--a dead body discovered down by the river. It isn't until Molly arrives that she learns the victim is a newborn baby girl.
Sandy Mendelson should be in high school, but she's too busy taking care of her drug-addled mother, Jenna, and besides, they never stay in one place long enough for Sandy to accomplish anything. But Sandy is secretly trying to get her GED through a local program. That is until her mother disappears and a strange man shows up at their apartment door with an eviction notice.
Barbara Carlson is married to the chief of police and gives new meaning to the phrase "helicopter parent." Her daughter Hannah is a successful high school student and her son Cole is in kindergarten. When Barbara starts receiving reports that Cole is acting out she freaks. Certainly he saw or heard something he shouldn't at the home of his little friend, the one with the terrible mother. Things truly escalate when Barbara finds Cole drawing a picture of a person with no arms and blood everywhere.
The lives of these three women begin to intertwine as the murder case seeps into Ridgedale. Where They Found Her oscillates between each of their points of view, slowly drawing lives together like multiple puzzles whose pieces are joined to create a completely new picture. And as the case unravels, the ties that bind these women become tighter and tighter, and each comes out a completely different person.
Where They Found Her is gritty and dark. It's also hopeful and inspiring. McCreight is adept at juggling several seemingly unrelated mysteries and then uniting them at the conclusion. No part is inconsequential in her master plan.
The alternating points of view builds suspense and makes this a difficult book to put down. Each perspective is incomplete so the readers have to put the various clues together and try to identify the red herrings McCreight throws in as well. Her plot building is artful, but it's her characters that will truly engage readers with this novel.
The idea of the strong female character is both challenged and illustrated throughout the novel, but in non-traditional ways. They aren't out solving the crimes in four-inch stilettos, instead they're recovering from depression, working on a GED, and trying to be the best mother possible. They are people readers can identify with and empathize with. That connection makes the suspenseful plot exponentially more engaging.
Where They Found Her packs a powerful punch and leaves a lasting impression.
Where They Found Her is available in hardcover from Harper (9780062225467) and as an unabridged audio (9781481534710), narrated by Tavia Gilbert, Lauren Fortgang, Rachel F. Hirsch and Therese Plummer, from Harper and Blackstone Audio.
My review today is the last stop of the TLC book tour for Where They Found Her. Check the schedule to see what other bloggers are saying about Kimberly McCreight's sophomore novel. You can also connect with Kimberly on Facebook and Twitter.
Disclosure: I do some contractual work for one of the owners of TLC Blog Tours. My work with them does not obligate me to a specific kind of review. The reviews are still my own opinions and reflect only my thoughts on the novels. If you care to read more, you can find more information on my Disclosure page.