After her journalism career goes up in flames, a young woman reconnects with an old friend in an attempt to start anew only to become embroiled in a series of increasingly violent crimes.
Leah Stevens thought life as a reporter in Boston couldn’t get better until a story on college suicides goes sideways in the worst way and she resigns before things get uglier. Floundering professionally and personally, Leah runs into her former roommate Emmy Grey, whom she hasn’t seen in eight years, and after a vodka-fueled night more in line with a network television show than anything resembling real life, the pair decides to start over in western Pennsylvania. The nominally qualified Leah teaches school, and Emmy works sporadically in a fleabag motel. Soon a woman is found by the lake, beaten almost to death and bearing an unnerving resemblance to Leah. The obvious suspect is Davis Cobb, the school’s basketball coach who’s also fond of drunk-dialing Leah. Not wanting her past to come to light, Leah skirts the cops’ questions but becomes increasingly worried when Emmy doesn’t show up for days on end. Though her friend isn’t always reliable, disappearing without a word is unusual, so Leah starts digging, becoming more unnerved the more she tries to piece together Emmy’s life, and discovers it is built on lies. With the police skeptical of her story and Leah beginning to doubt her own sanity, Miranda (All the Missing Girls, 2016, etc.) doubles down on the tragic back story angle, to the overall detriment of an otherwise solid plot.
Familiar elements shuffled around can make for an entertaining read, but in the end, the pieces will still be just that: familiar.