Thursday Thriller Audio: Local Woman Missing by Mary Kubica
I received a review copy from the publisher. This does not affect the contents of my review and all opinions are my own.
Mogsy’s Rating (Overall): 3.5 of 5 stars
Genre: Mystery, Thriller
Series: Stand Alone
Publisher: Harlequin Audio (May 18, 2021)
Length: 11 hrs and 40 mins
Narrators: Brittany Pressley, Jennifer Jill Araya, Gary Tiedemann, Jesse Vilinsky
A slow-burn thriller, Local Woman Missing is a mystery that takes a while to get going, but once the pieces start falling into place, it’s hard to stop reading. The story begins with the disappearance of Shelby Tebow, a young woman and a new mom who went out running one night and never returned. Naturally, her husband was the main suspect, as it came to light that the couple’s relationship had become rocky in the months leading up to the night Shelby went missing.
But then not long after that, another woman named Meredith Dickey disappears, but this time, her six-year-old daughter Delilah goes missing with her. Strangely enough, not only do the two women live in the same neighborhood, authorities also discover that Meredith, a doula, had known Shelby and had helped her deliver her baby.
As the news rocks the once peaceful community, neighbors who knew Meredith begin to search frantically for her and her daughter. But their efforts end in tragedy when the Meredith was found dead in a motel room, with a note bearing the ominous message, “You’ll never find her.” Of the little girl, there was no sign—not until eleven years later, when a young woman stumbles out of the woods, dirtied and showing signs of long suffered abuse, claiming to be Delilah Dickey.
The main premise was definitely intriguing, but as I said, the story did not hook me until I was about a quarter of the way in. One of the reasons for this is the structure of the novel, narrated by multiple characters through two different timelines, the past and the present. In the past, most of the story is told through Meredith’s perspective, which details the weeks before she vanished, as well as through the eyes of her neighbor Kate, whose account begins shortly after Meredith disappears. Together with her girlfriend Bea, Kate decides to do some investigating of her own in an attempt to find a link between Meredith and Shelby, who had gone missing not long before.
Then there’s the present, which begins with the harrowing escape of a teenage girl who had been held captive for many years, locked in a dark prison by her abductors. After she identifies herself as Delilah Dickey, the whole world goes nuts. Reporters from all over the country and jumping on the story as Meredith’s case is reopened, and her husband Josh is beside himself with renewed grief but also happiness that his lost daughter might have been found again. In all the hubbub, no one notices Leo, Delilah’s younger brother, who is experiencing all kinds of mixed feelings now that his long-lost sister has apparently been found. And thus, the present timeline is mostly told through his chapters, in which second-person narration is employed, with Leo referring to Delilah as “you.”
Needless to say, with all this skipping back and forth between timelines and narrative shifts aplenty, it took a while for me to really settle in with this novel. But once I got past the information overload, things got better. Before long, I found myself addicted and always hungering for the next clue. And for a while, I was really enjoying myself.
Unfortunately, everything became turned upside down once more as we got to the final stretch. I don’t want to go into too much detail, as I would hate to inadvertently spoil the ending, but I felt the resolution was too simple and required huge leaps of logic and major suspension of disbelief. Which isn’t normally a problem for me, especially when it comes to thrillers, where usually that is to be expected, but in this case, it was pretty extreme. I didn’t care for how the mystery wrapped up, which felt both disjointed and too neatly tied up all at once. No attempt was really made to smooth things out either, to help them make a little more sense, which kind of annoyed me. Such a shame, because up until this point, the story was very well plotted and written.
Still, Local Woman Missing was my first novel by Mary Kubica, and despite the issues with it, I would not say no to another. I’m pretty used to endings to thrillers being hit-or-miss by now, and everything leading up to the resolution of this one was pretty awesome, so it’s a win overall! It helped that the audiobook was also fantastic. Performed by Brittany Pressley (of whom I am a fan), Jennifer Jill Araya, Gary Tiedemann, and Jess Vilinsky, multiple narrators gave this mystery thriller extra layers of immersiveness.