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ISLAND OF LOST GIRLS by Jennifer McMahon

ISLAND OF LOST GIRLS

By Jennifer McMahon

Pub Date: May 1st, 2008
ISBN: 978-0-06-144588-0
Publisher: Harper/HarperCollins

Small-town copycat crimes yet again spur a hometown girl to recall more personal situations in McMahon’s well-crafted—if formulaic—sophomore effort.

As Rhonda Farr waits at a gas station in her rural Vermont town, she witnesses the unthinkable: Someone dressed in a rabbit suit snatches a small child from a car and drives away. Rhonda is guilt-ridden and joins the rescue efforts for Ernestine, but she is not alone—station owner Pat and her nephew Warren seem equally committed to the cause. For Rhonda, the crime hits close to home—the rabbit’s getaway car belonged to the mother-in-law of her longtime unrequited love, Peter Shale. All signs point to him as a suspect, but it’s hard for Rhonda to accept that he is guilty, especially because Peter has a daughter the same age as Ernestine. Rhonda and Warren become a team, linking up to scout for clues and eventually beginning a romantic relationship. But the hunt also forces her to confront a pivotal summer in her own childhood, when Peter’s father vanished, and his sister, Lizzy, Rhonda’s best friend, went crazy. Lizzy also disappeared a few years later, leaving everyone to assume that she was with her father, making both of them suspects now too—especially when Peter and a woman looking remarkably like Lizzy are spotted at a local hotel with a girl Ernestine’s age. Rhonda’s memories uncover a trove of intricate family secrets about the Farrs and the Shales, including illicit romances, questionable paternity of various children and even signs of abuse. But just when Rhonda thinks she has it all figured out, new suspects emerge, a body is discovered and the case grows more complicated.

The flashbacks, dirty family secrets and sudden plot twists harken back to McMahon’s debut (Promise Not to Tell, 2007), but, commendably, she still manages some surprises.