‘The Summer She Vanished’ – Jessica Irena Smith

Our main character is Maggie, a student, who has returned to Boweridge (a small town in America) to see her mother for the first time in years. They’ve had a tempestuous relationship since Maggie chose to go to the UK to live with her father…and things take a downward turn when Maggie learns that she had an aunt, Minna, that nobody has talked about. Maggie takes it upon herself to learn more.

What Maggie discovers is that forty years ago a young nun, Sister Fran, was found murdered outside a diner on the outskirts of Boweridge. A week after this seventeen year old Minna disappeared. Everyone at the time assumed she ran away, but Maggie finds hints that the two cases might be connected as Minna told people she knew who had murdered Sister Fran.

We follow Maggie as she sets about trying to uncover the truth.

The town of Boweridge is full of characters with something to hide…a lot of which links to the convent where the name of one charismatic priest, Father Tom Brennan (the brother of the Chief of Police), keeps cropping up. Rumours have circulated for years, and Maggie finds plenty of evidence of a large-scale cover-up.

This was an absorbing read. The intricacy of the deception involved angered me, and the fact that so many innocent people got caught up in this web of lies was hard to comprehend. Not all our questions are answered – the slimy Simon definitely had something to answer to – but Maggie’s investigation makes for a compelling read.

Thanks to the publishers and NetGalley for giving me the opportunity to read and review this before publication.