Jess and Heather were once best friends – until the night Heather’s sister Flora vanished. The night that lies tore their friendship apart.
But years later, when a brutal double murder shakes their childhood town, Jess returns home.
Because the suspect is Heather.
What happened to the girl you used to know?
I became a fan of this author several years ago. I have not read all of her books yet but out of the four I did read so far, there are two titles I awarded with five stars (Local Girl Missing and Last Seen Alive) so with such a high score of course I put Then She Vanishes on my readlist after that.
The first pages of Then She Vanishes threw me right into the middle of a harrowing scene with someone murdering two people in their own home in cold blood. Who would do such a thing, and especially, why? The motive is not explained and puzzled me to no end. It kept me looking for clues throughout the whole novel. The alleged killer, Heather, fell into a coma after a botched suicide attempt so the only one who could get any closer to the truth turns out to be Jess, a reporter.
Jess used to be best friends with Heather but they had a falling out when they were teenagers. I really enjoyed the flashbacks when they still were best friends, before Heather’s sister Flora went missing. But what was it that tore their friendship apart? What is Jess feeling guilty about, what secret has she kept all these years? It kept playing on my mind, did it have anything to do with Flora’s disappearance? The author is in no hurry to tell but I loved speculating about what was covered up for so many years.
I came to know Heather as someone with good intentions, someone kind and caring and a good daughter to her mother, a stickler at following the rules as opposed to her big sister Flora who she adored, so her act of murdering two people seemed way out of character. Yet nothing is ever straightforward in Claire Douglas’s books and I have come to expect those twists and as always, I enjoyed many of them in this novel. One of them in particular came as a real shock, it was tragic and showed a dark side of life that I hadn’t counted on.
The different plotlines of the past and the present are in some way connected and the author brings everything brilliantly together. There was only one twist that I expected from early on and it’s a big one so I was hoping someone – if not Jess, the police perhaps – would see the clue for what it was but no, the police was quite absent in the story and no help at all. I had to wait a little too long for it to come out so that was one big omg-moment I missed but that’s the only thing I can complain about and if I hadn’t know I’d have given it a star more. If you want clever twists and turns this is an author you need to read for sure.
Then She Vanishes is quite a brilliant whydunnit against an intriguing backdrop of family and friendship.
I bought a copy of this novel. This is my honest opinion.