... a sharply-written, tension-filled yarn full of twists readers are unlikely to see coming. The most compelling element, however, is the character of Frankie, a recovering alcoholic whose obsession with the missing is a penance of sorts for the burden of guilt and grief she carries over a past trauma that took the life of a man she loves.
... pulls no punches as [Gardner] spins an excellent tale ... a very satisfying thriller ... a novel firmly rooted in modern technology and investigative techniques as well as the minutiae of the life of the urban poor. This realism of Ms. Gardner’s served to assuage, too, any reservations I had of Frankie playing a weird, white-lady-savior role even before our heroine bluntly faces the reality of what she’s doing ... Smart, suspenseful, and socially conscious, this novel knows how to concoct a thriller out of current affairs without cheapening the subject or deriding any of the people involved. Frankie is a troubled, complicated woman determined to do the right thing while also recognizing that she doesn’t have all the answers and is in no place to dictate the affairs of others. She’s a wonderful heroine for our turbulent times. In all honesty, I’m sad that this is a standalone, as I’d love to read more of Frankie and her cases. I’ll just have to check out Ms. Gardner’s many other novels to find more heroines I’ll undoubtedly root for as much as I cheered on Frankie.
It’s hard to tag just one stand-out element here, between the multidimensional portrayal of Mattapan’s Haitian expat community, Frankie’s humanizing demons and straightforward investigative technique, and a page-turning plot with all its ends tucked in unpredictably tight. Tense and immersive, Gardner’s latest (hopefully a series starter) is a sure bet both for readers drawn to gritty gumshoe fiction and for the growing legion of true-crime podcast fans.