Local Girl Missing – Claire Douglas

 

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Twenty years ago
21-year-old Sophie Collier vanishes one night.  She leaves nothing behind but a trainer on the old pier – and a hole in the heart of her best friend Francesca.

Now
A body’s been found.  And Francesca’s drawn back to the seaside town she’s tried to forget. Perhaps the truth of what happened to Sophie will finally come out. Yet Francesca is beginning to wish she hadn’t returned.

Everywhere she turns are ghosts from her past.  The same old faces and familiar haunts of her youth.  But if someone knows what really happened to Sophie that night then now’s the time to find out – isn’t it?

Except sometimes discovering the truth can cost you everything you hold dear – your family, your sanity and even your life . . .

*********

I enjoyed reading Local Girl Missing, Claire Douglas’ second book.  It’s a psychological/mystery full of twists and turns and a very good read.

Francesca is 39 years old, living in London and a successful businesswoman involved in the running of her father’s hotel business.

Out of the blue she receives a call from the brother of her best friend Sophie who, years earlier, had disappeared late one night from a club in the seaside town where they had grown up.  It was assumed she had fallen off the town’s deserted pier and had been swept away by the tide but no body had ever been recovered.

Daniel tells her that remains have been washed up, that it might be Sophie and he persuades Francesca to return to the town to await the official identification and help him find out what had happened to his sister.

Francesca takes a few days off and reluctantly returns to Oldcliffe-on-Sea, despite having sworn never to go back. We learn that there was an incident in the past, when the the friends were 16, involving a young boy, Jason. It appears Francesca and Sophie knew what really happened but swore never to tell anyone.

Daniel arranges for Francesca to stay in a friend’s holiday apartment in a Victorian apartment block, high on a cliff top and overlooking the old pier. As it is out of season most of the flats are unoccupied. There is a sense of foreboding and uneasiness.  It was easy to imagine the bleakness of a seaside town in winter.

Memories soon start flooding back, not always welcome memories. In fact it soon appears that Francesca is not welcome either and someone is sending her poison pen messages. There are various incidents that can’t be explained. She’s terrified someone else knows what happened to Jason. There are people from the past still living in the town. She doesn’t know who’s telling the truth, who she can trust.

The author tells the story from both Francesca’s and Sophie’s point of view. Frankie’s story is set in 2016, Sophie’s story is in the form of her journal from 1997. Because of the two time frames you get to know the characters both as teenagers and as adults. There is one character from the past who is really despicable. Who has access to these diary entries? Are they sending the poison pen messages?

I liked this book – it was a well written, satisfying read – quite chilling in parts and full of twists and turns and secrets. The ending was good and not quite what I expected.

Read an extract from Local Girl Missing here.

[My thanks to NetGalley and Penguin UK – Michael Joseph for providing a review copy of this book]

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Filed under crime, psychological thriller, Uncategorized

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