cover image Before She Disappeared

Before She Disappeared

Lisa Gardner. Dutton, $27 (400p) ISBN 978-1-5247-4504-2

Recovering alcoholic Frankie Elkin, the narrator of this outstanding crime novel from bestseller Gardner (When You See Me), has found purpose, if not peace, in channeling her addictive personality into finding missing women no one else bothers to search for. Newly arrived in Boston, Frankie sets out on the trail of 16-year-old Angelique Lovelie Badeau, who seems destined to beat the odds in her tough Haitian community. What would drive Angelique, a girl with such a bright future, to simply disappear one day? Frankie’s search leads her through a thicket of gangs, traffickers, and institutional racism. The mystery’s solution is a neat twist on the obvious dangers that might destroy a talented girl’s dreams. Frankie, who describes herself as an “average middle-aged white woman,” is a nuanced character whose unflinching honesty and lack of self-pity allows the reader to empathize, if not completely sympathize, with her struggles. And cat lovers are sure to fall for Piper, Frankie’s equally dysfunctional feral companion. Gardner pulls no punches in this socially conscious standalone. Agent: Meg Ruley, Jane Rotrosen Agency. (Jan.)