Book review: Girl Last Seen by Nina Laurin

Sunday, June 18, 2017 Permalink

I’m not sure what it is at the moment, but I seem to be reading A LOT of books about missing girls and women. Particularly those held captive for a period of time. Perhaps the very popular Room by Emma Donohue made the topic more palatable for public consumption, or perhaps they’ve always been out there and I’m just stumbling over a heap all at once.

The third straight book I’ve read on the subject, Girl Last Seen by Nina Laurin is – as it happens – about the disappearance of two girls. Many years apart. 

Book review: Girl Last Seen by Nina LaurinGirl Last Seen
by Nina Laurin
Published by Grand Central Publishing
on June 20th 2017
Source: NetGalley
Genres: Thriller / Suspense
ISBN: 145556902X, 9781455569021
Pages: 352

Two missing girls. Thirteen years apart.

Olivia Shaw has been missing since last Tuesday. She was last seen outside the entrance of her elementary school in Hunts Point wearing a white spring jacket, blue jeans, and pink boots.

I force myself to look at the face in the photo, into her slightly smudged features, and I can't bring myself to move. Olivia Shaw could be my mirror image, rewound to thirteen years ago.

If you have any knowledge of Olivia Shaw's whereabouts or any relevant information, please contact...

I've spent a long time peering into the faces of girls on missing posters, wondering which one replaced me in that basement. But they were never quite the right age, the right look, the right circumstances. Until Olivia Shaw, missing for one week tomorrow.

Whoever stole me was never found. But since I was taken, there hasn't been another girl.

And now there is.

This book opens with the escape of Ella Santos from her captor, who’s held the 13 year old for three years. We next meet her a decade later, where she lives in anonymity under a pseudonym (Lainey) assigned to her many years earlier.

We soon learn Ella was the child of a fairly disinterested mother and it took a while for anyone to actually notice that she’d gone missing after her mother was imprisoned. It made it hard therefore, for investigators to understand when and where she was taken. And given her family background and how little the 13 year old could share on her release about her masked captor, investigators perhaps looked a less less fervently than they might have otherwise done.

It’s now ten years later and newly-missing Olivia is from a wealthy family and a world away from the child Ella was. There are similarities though (although for me drawing the link was a bit of a stretch other than the physical similarities between Olivia and Ella) so Lainey’s spidey senses are tingling.

There were a few surprises in this book – and they weren’t necessarily just the whodunnit kind. They actually helps link the two cases so it becomes obvious they’re somehow connected. We don’t learn a lot more about Lainey’s own kidnapping and time spent with her captor, but she finally confronts her past and it’s something she needs to do – not to mention heightening the intrigue for we readers.

There’s an interesting dynamic between Lainey and Sean, one of the investigators – one who saw the damaged 13 year old she once was and looks beyond her current bravado. I actually liked that Laurin wasn’t tempted to have Lainey turn her life around completely and the young woman is obviously still struggling with her history. She works two jobs to make ends meet but is dependent on an array of pharmaceuticals to get her through the day. Her addiction only increases as she deals with the anxiety of police scrutiny and media attention.

Similarly Olivia’s parents and detective Sean Ortiz are complex enough that we’re not sure we can completely trust them. It adds to the suspense, along with the unexpected revelations thrown in along the way.

Of course, as the links between the cases become more obvious it seems likely that Lainey may again be in danger, but (at the same time) may also be the only one who can help Olivia… so I couldn’t put this down and read it in a sitting.

Girl Last Seen by Nina Laurin was published by Grand Central Publishing (Hachette Book Group) and is available from 20 June 2017.

I received an electronic copy of this book via NetGalley from the publisher for review purposes.



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