Frankie Elkin is an average middle-aged woman with more regrets than belongings who spends her life doing what no one else will: searching for missing people the world has stopped looking for. When the police have given up, when the public no longer remembers, when the media has never paid attention, Frankie starts looking.
A new case brings Frankie to Mattapan, a Boston neighbourhood with a rough reputation. She is searching for Angelique Badeau, a Haitian teenager who vanished from her high school months earlier.
Resistance from the Boston PD and the victim’s wary family tells Frankie she’s on her own. And she soon learns she’s asking questions someone doesn’t want answered.
But Frankie will stop at nothing to discover the truth, even if it means the next person to go missing will be her…
I’m delighted to be taking part in the blog tour for Before She Disappeared, Lisa Gardner’s first standalone novel in over ten years. I haven’t read a lot of her work, but I really enjoyed 2020’s When You See Me, and I was immediately intrigued by the premise of her latest novel.
I’m not a police officer.
I’m not a private investigator.
I have no special skills or training.
I’m only me. An average middle-aged white woman with more regrets than belongings, more sad stories than happy ones.
Frankie Elkin is a superb character and one that I immediately fell in love with. She’s a middle-aged woman who tries to find those who are missing, usually after all but the family have given up and moved on. It’s a hard life – she asks difficult questions which often rubs the authorities the wrong way, and her arrival is usually met with suspicion and hostility by the locals despite her good intentions. She does it anyway, travelling the country as each case dictates, and owns nothing that she can’t carry with her. She’s a loner, thick-skinned from necessity, and yet thoroughly engaging. Gardner has given Frankie a convincing backstory which explains her behaviour, and it’s one that helps the reader to engage with the character. Throughout, I wanted her to succeed in her mission and to conquer her demons.
Her latest case takes her to Boston to find missing teen, Angelique Badeau. No one expects much when Frankie turns up, least of all the family and Detective Latham who worked the case. Frankie soon discovers new evidence, however, and highlights connections that the police didn’t make, reinvigorating the case. It’s a plot that becomes increasingly complex as we learn more about Angelique’s disappearance, and I was hooked from the beginning. What I really liked about the plot was that at no point does Frankie begin to display crazily heroic abilities – everything she does is realistic and remains true to character. And during the investigation, she gets angry, scared, and upset – she remains human throughout. There are those in the world who do what Frankie does – it was a BBC article about one such that provided inspiration for the novel – and it remains plausible throughout.
Frankie can’t do what she does entirely on her own, and I loved the supporting cast of characters that bring the story to life beautifully. Detective Latham in particular makes a great sidekick (although he’d be furious at me for casting him in that light!) and after their initial butting of heads, I loved the charged will they / won’t they interactions and the witty repartee between them.
Before She Disappeared is a fantastic novel and one that had me hooked from the beginning. It’s a great concept, and I liked the approach to solving a missing persons cases as Frankie’s role gives a different perspective to the more common police procedural and journo angles. Highly recommended.
Before She Disappeared was published by Century on 21 January. Many thanks to Rachel Kennedy and the publisher for the early review copy and the opportunity to take part in the blog tour.
Make sure you check out the other wonderful bloggers taking part in the tour: