Title: Where they Found Her
Author: Kimberly McCreight
Released: April 14 2015
Goodreads Rating: 3.84 (of 27,256 ratings)
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At the end of a long winter, in bucolic Ridgedale, New Jersey, the body of an infant is discovered in the woods near the town’s prestigious university campus. No one knows who the baby is, or how her body ended up out there. But there is no shortage of opinions.
When freelance journalist, and recent Ridgedale transplant, Molly Anderson is unexpectedly called upon to cover the story for the Ridegdale Reader, it’s a risk, given the severe depression that followed the loss of her own baby. But the bigger threat comes when Molly unearths some of Ridgedale’s darkest secrets, including a string of unreported sexual assaults that goes back twenty years.
Meanwhile, Sandy, a high school dropout, searches for her volatile and now missing mother, and PTA president Barbara struggles to help her young son, who’s suddenly having disturbing outbursts.
Told from the perspectives of Molly, Barbara, and Sandy, Kimberly McCreight’s taut and profoundly moving novel unwinds the tangled truth about the baby’s death revealing that these three women have far more in common than they realized. And that their lives are more intertwined with what happened to the baby than they ever could have imagined.
What’s This: A book with a mystery.
Where they Found Her is my fourth selection for BPR’s Halloween Read-a-thon: Nightmare Before Book Princess Reviews. How can I talk spooky Halloween books and not choose a thrilling mystery that is sure to keep a reader on the edge of their seat? The first time I read this book I was haunted — not only by questions of who could have killed a baby, but by the moral/ethical conundrums McCreight casually slipped into the narrative. What better time than Halloween to question the way you live your life, when the line between the dead and living blur and mortality seems oh-so frail…
Molly Sanderson still feels new in town. Her husband has settled into his professorship at Ridgedale University, but she never planned to be a journalist. She never expected to lose a child. And she certainly did not prepare herself to be the lead reporter when a child’s body is found on university property. But Molly rises to the challenge: she sees this as an opportunity to understand her emotions following her miscarriage and if she is not born to be an investigative reporter, I don’t know who is. Molly asks all the right questions at the right time. She has a fiery determination that pushes her on but also the common sense to not just run into a suspect’s house without second thought. I was so happy when yes, Molly goes into a random male suspect’s house … but thinks to text her husband the address. Like. A protagonist who doesn’t just run around as though a murder didn’t just possibly happen, when a murder just possibly happened? Whoa. Thanks McCreight!
Needless to say, I enjoyed Molly’s PoV, and the switches to Barbara and Sandy were not moments of “less than” either. They were simply different sides to a many-faceted story (because be warned, at the beginning you will have no idea why the three are connected, which I loooved). Barbara is the manic, helicopter mom. She dotes particularly on her youngest son, Cole, who has been displaying the creepiest behaviour lately. As a mother, Barbara doesn’t say “the creepiest behaviour” but I can tell you the truth. Cue the example where Cole pops up beside her bed one night to say he has “bad images in his head.” The Barbara chapters add a spooky element to the story that really adds tension to everything else going on.
Sandy, meanwhile, is simply looking for her mom. As if a baby’s body being found is not enough, there’s a missing woman that the police just aren’t dedicated to finding. Sandy wants so badly to live her life … even if she still doesn’t know what that would mean, or how she would do it, with a mother who’s more absentee than anything else.
Where they Found her doesn’t beat around the bush. There are no chapters that waste time with meaningless dialogue or idle chit chat. Every single encounter is a little clue towards why Sandy’s mom is missing or why this baby was found on university property or why these three women are connected. Not to say the writing feels forced! The opposite: the writing flows, and it does so at a pace that keeps you engaged and burning to read more and KNOW WHAT HAPPENS!
I feel like this is the vaguest review I have ever written, but that’s truly because McCreight is deliberate in her secrets. If I let one thing slip, the whole mystery could crash down … and I love this book so much that to ruin it for someone would be a real nightmare. I love this book. Like, adore it. It is a greatly written mystery that truly engages the reader from start to finish, and makes it easy to connect with every character along the way.
I only have one negative, and that would be the ending. It came off a bit too rushed for me. As I said, I really liked the characters and found them easy to connect to. So obviously when the story ended, I wanted to know how everyone ended up. But some character endings were a bit vague (I knew what happened, but not exactly how) or rushed.
I’m giving this book four and a half crowns. It’s not quite perfect (as I mentioned, the ending left me feeling a little un-tethered) but Where they Found Her remains one of my favourite and most recommended mystery novels to date.
Should mysteries tie-in themes or stick to a good old “whodunit” quest? Do you like to try and solve the mystery, or leave it up to the heroine? Let’s discuss!