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Nowhere Girl by Susan Strecker

 Nowhere Girl by Susan Strecker
Pub. Date: March 1, 2016
Source: e-ARC via netgalley (Thank you, Thomas Dunne Books!)
Summary: “The day Savannah was killed she was fifteen minutes late to meet me.” So begins bookseller favorite Susan Strecker’s second novel of twin sisters and the murder that left one twin behind.

Savannah was the popular bad girl skipping school and moving quickly from one boyfriend to the next, so when she didn’t meet Cady as promised, Cady wasn’t surprised and the truth was Cady was already a bit mad at her. When Cady suddenly becomes short of breath she realizes Savannah is in trouble, but within minutes Savannah is gone.

Years later Cady, now a bestselling author of suspense, spends her time interviewing killers, hoping each interview will help her understand what happened to her sister. Despite Savannah’s death, the bond Savannah and Cady share has never been broken. Savannah still comes to Cady, but the clues her sister sends don’t add up until a chance encounter while researching her latest novel provides a missing piece of the puzzle.
Genre: Contemporary, Thriller, Mystery

I love a good thriller. Before I began blogging thrillers were mainly what I read and when I got back into them in 2015 I fell in love all over again and became hooked once more. So when I was doing some netgalley browsing and came across an unknown-to-me author lauded as a “bookseller favorite” coming out with a new book about twins and murder…well, you just know I had to take a closer look.

Savannah and Cady are sixteen-year-old twins who love each other fiercely but are growing apart. Cady is more reserved and quiet, while Savannah is all about a new boy every week and sees nothing wrong with sneaking out of the house in the middle of the night. Cady knows her sister is having sex and doing drugs, but when Savannah doesn’t show up one day after school, Cady realizes just how little she knew about her twin.

An abandoned house, a dead body, and a world of questions. Years later, Cady is now a bestselling author of suspenseful thrillers, stuck in a loveless marriage, struggling with a few extra pounds, and still looking for her sister’s killer. But the answers she finds aren’t exactly what she had expected.

Nowhere Girl was an okay read and those are the hardest for me to discuss. It was quick and engaging (who killed Savannah??) but it was the bigger picture I enjoyed, rather than the details. Cady’s best friend is a librarian who thinks it’s hilarious to send nude photos while she’s at work. Cady’s husband is a psychiatrist obsessed with money and is angry that his wife is more successful – and he’s probably sleeping with his secretary. Cady’s high school crush is back in town and still gorgeous (and the best friend obsessed with nudes? She spends the entire novel trying to convince Cady to sleep with him.) Cady’s family hardly fares better: after Savannah was murdered, their parents left town and moved south. Her brother shuts down whenever someone attempts to talk about the past, so it’s simply never brought up. The murder took place 20-ish years earlier and these characters have never dealt with their emotions and, as a result, have completely turned away from one another when they should have been each other’s greatest support.

Cady and Savannah had that almost-psychic twin bond and it’s that connection that leads police to the body. Cady instantly knows something happened to her sister – she can’t breathe herself – and immediately knows where to find her. Of course the police and ambulance aren’t able to make it in time to save her sister. Since then Cady occasionally has dreams where Savannah is trying to tell her something and this felt…hokey. Like it was a gimmick and nothing more. This could have been really intriguing and added something unique to the story, but instead it only adds to Cady’s unwillingness to properly grieve.

Throughout Nowhere Girl there’s a TON of build-up leading to the climax and reveal and while reading I kept trying to guess at the answers. When everything was finally announced I was more than a little disappointed (and, to be honest, prefer my own theories instead.) It felt like I had wasted the effort it took to reach the end with its cop-out ‘motive’ and sitcom way of wrapping up the minor characters’ side stories. It’s a shame I found the ending so lacking. Nowhere Girl had such potential and could have been a fantastic read for me. As it stands, it’s still a fun ride for a lazy weekend – just don’t expect any life-changing moments. Despite my lukewarm feelings about this one I still enjoyed the writing and first half enough to want to check out Strecker’s debut, Night Blindness.

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