Book Content Warnings: sexual assault, domestic abuse, gun violence, tight spaces (claustrophobia)
Article Content Warnings: N/A
Spooky season is just about over, but some of us still can’t get enough thrillers and chills to last till next year! As an avid thriller reader, I am one of those people, which is why I’ve now read five of best-selling thriller-author Lisa Jewell’s spine-tingling novels over the past few years. Her newest release, The Night She Disappeared, is arguably her most emotionally driven thriller yet, taking up themes of grief and abusive relationships.
I’ve been anxious to find Jewell’s next thrilling gem ever since I read her 2017 thriller Then She Was Gone. The last few Jewell thrillers I’ve read have been disappointing and underwhelming misses: her 2020 release Invisible Girl, her 2019 release The Family Upstairs, and her 2018 release Watching You. These subsequent thrillers were really missing that element to draw me in, leaving me uninterested in the plot and wanting more from the characters. This was not the case with Then She Was Gone, which had me hooked from the beginning.
At first glance, it may seem like we’ve been here before: a daughter missing, a mother distraught and desperate to uncover the truth. When the case of her missing nineteen-year-old daughter Tallulah goes cold, heartbroken mother Kim will not give up until she finds her.
Tallulah is a mother herself, leaving behind her toddler and partner in her sudden disappearance. Kim must discover the truth of what happened to her daughter, while raising the child Talluhlah left behind and picking up the pieces of their family at the same time.
By alternating timelines between 2017 (the night Talluhlah disappeared) and 2019, Jewell is able to expertly craft a thriller with two groups of people to root for. In the present timeline, Jewell introduces Sophie, a crime-fiction writer and the new head of the local college. While trying to write her next novel, she becomes distracted by the mystery of what happened that night. Alongside Kim, the grief-stricken mother and sympathetic crime novelist work together to solve the cold case of what happened to Tallulah. Meanwhile, in the 2017 timeline, we get the story of how the titular night unfolded, being introduced to some of Tallulah’s classmates and friends from college, who may not be as trustworthy as she thinks.
By the time the timelines catch up to each other, Jewell has crafted a compelling mystery full of twists and turns, making sure you won’t know who to believe. My head was spinning in a thousand different directions trying to figure out what was actually going on.
I devoured this in the span of a single day while in the hospital, and while I cannot say for sure if my ill and isolated state altered my reading of this novel, I can say that I had a great time reading it. While I was able to predict a couple of the twists and nothing had my jaw on the floor, this was a decent, emotionally charged thriller full of characters whom I actually felt empathy for.
I’ve knocked off a star for the somewhat random romance subplot that takes place throughout the novel. I got the feeling that Jewell may have been tokenizing a bit with this character arc, and for that reason, The Night She Disappeared gets four stars from me. Not quite as great as Then She Was Gone, but both difficult to put down from the very beginning.
Lisa Jewell is the #1 New York Times bestselling author of nineteen novels, including The Family Upstairs and Then She Was Gone, as well as Invisible Girl and Watching You. Her novels have sold over 5 million copies internationally, and her work has also been translated into twenty-nine languages. Connect with her on Twitter @LisaJewellUK, on Instagram @LisaJewellUK, and on Facebook @LisaJewellOfficial.
The Night She Disappeared can be purchased here.