Genre: Adult, Thriller, Mystery Publication.Date October 14th 2014 Pages: 384 Published By: Gallery Books Author Sophie Littlefield The Missing Place on Goodreads My review copy: Received from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.
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Twenty-year-old Taylor Jarvis and Paul Carroll go missing in Weir, North Dakota, where they have been working on rigs owned by Oasis Energy. The boys stayed in Black Creek Lodge, a ?man camp? providing room and board. The mothers of the two boys come to Weir to find out what happened to their sons and form an uneasy alliance. Shay Jarvis, a 41-year-old single grandmother, has more grit than resources; for wealthy suburban housewife Colleen Carroll, the opposite is true. Overtaxed by worry, exhaustion, and fear, they question each other's methods and motivations - but there is no one else to help, and they must learn to work together if they are to have any chance of breaking through the barriers put up by their sons? employer, the indifference of an overtaxed police department, and a town of strangers with their own secrets against a backdrop of a modern day gold rush.
"Andy wanted me to wait. He said...he said we should give Paul a few more days, it was probably all a misunderstanding."
"Fuck that," Shay said before she could stop herself. "You're the mom. You know when something's wrong."
Give him back. You have to give him back to me.
The Missing Place is equal parts tense and thrilling mystery and heartbreaking drama. This is a story of two mothers joining their forces to find their missing sons, or at least discover what happened to them. Personally, I think anyone can enjoy a well written mystery such as this one, but, undoubtedly, mom-readers will find it particularly riveting.
I enjoyed the mystery part - it was well constructed and satisfying, even if slightly far-fetched in some aspects - but it's the family drama, the crippling despair of not knowing where your child is and what happened to them, the grief and pain and desperate attempts at holding on to one's sanity while pushing through and fighting against - what felt like - the whole world that really hit me hard and resonated with me deeply. I can not imagine ever finding myself in a similar situation, but I know that just like Shay and Colleen I would stop at nothing to get my child back. Sophie Littlefield did an amazing job evoking all the heartbreaking feelings of fear, desperation, longing and burning need to hold your child in your arms one more time.
Both Shay and Colleen are characters I could easily relate to. They're almost polar opposites - they come from different economical backgrounds, they're personalities are far apart, they think differently and they each struggle with different things in their lives - but amazingly, right from the get go they are a team, they support each other in ways no other two human beings who only just met would ever be able to. And it was such an amazing connection to witness! The character development in The Missing Place is very thorough and well thought out, and serves to further enhance the heartbreak and the drama of this story. The contrasting lives of the two mothers sometimes get in the way, but ultimately their differences make them stronger a team, more powerful and focused. I particularly enjoyed watching them get to know each other.
While I was aware of the North Dakota oil boom, I was not familiar with the problems surrounding it, particularly the fact that it attracted so many people hoping to make money, and how these people were often times exploited by large, greedy corporations. I really enjoyed reading about the corruption and social injustice, the cover-ups, work accidents and disappearances that either no one cared about, or someone powerful cared about too much for it to ever see the light of the day. It was fascinating and very illuminating, and it definitely added a thought-provoking and disquieting layer to the mystery and the drama.
To me, this is a character driven story, though the mystery is definitely a complex, multi-layer and often times surprising one. All that makes it a very satisfying, profoundly affecting read that I wouldn't hesitate to recommend to anyone who enjoys deftly plotted, captivating, emotionally powerful stories with a subtle touch of corporate greed to spice it up.
About the Author
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Sophie's first novel, A BAD DAY FOR SORRY (Thomas Dunne/St. Martin's Minotaur, 2009) has been nominated for the Edgar, Macavity, Barry, and Crimespree awards, and won the Anthony Award and the RTBookReviews Reviewers Choice Award for Best First Mystery. Her novel AFTERTIME was a finalist for the Goodreads Choice Horror award.