‘Then She Was Gone’ – Lisa Jewell

Laurel Mack has a seemingly perfect life. Loving husband, three beautiful children and a sense of enjoyment. Then her youngest daughter, Ellie, doesn’t come home one day and the family are launched into a nightmare that has some considerable impact, even years later.

When we’re introduced to Laurel it’s ten years since her daughter went missing. The family have split and she has become a shadow of the woman she was. Then she meets Floyd in a cafe and things seem to be looking up.

Not surprisingly, things are not what they seem. When she’s introduced to Floyd’s younger daughter, Poppy, Laurel cannot get over the similarity between her and Ellie.

As a reader I felt I was a little ahead of the characters. The key plot details were signalled, and at times I wondered whether things really would take the turn I expected. Often, they did.

As we start to unearth details – not long after Ellie’s bones are discovered – we gain a new narrative voice and this helps delay the inevitable, creating tension that we expect but also welcome.

Some of the details surrounding the key players felt unnecessary. They often felt like an attempt to misdirect or divert our attention from what we really wanted to focus on.