Lisa Jewell’s The Night She Disappeared: Average at best

Lisa Jewell’s The Night She Disappeared is an engaging read but there are far better-executed mystery thrillers from less-lauded authors. Read my full review.

The Night She Disappeared Synopsis

The Night She Disappeared

From the global number one bestselling author of The Family Upstairs and Invisible Girl: a missing woman, an abandoned mansion, family trauma, and deep buried secrets.

“Mum, there’s some people here from college, they asked me back to theirs. Just for an hour or so. Is that OK?”

Midsummer 2017: teenage mum Tallulah heads out on a date, leaving her baby son at home with her mother, Kim.

At 11pm she sends her mum a text message. At 4.30am Kim awakens to discover that Tallulah has not come home

Friends tell her that Tallulah was last seen heading to a pool party at a house in the woods nearby called Dark Place

Tallulah never returns.

2018: walking in the woods behind the boarding school where her boyfriend has just started as a head-teacher, Sophie sees a sign nailed to a fence.

A sign that says: DIG HERE . . .

(Penguin Australia, July 2021)

Genre: Mystery, Drama, Romance, Thriller

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The Night She Disappeared Book Review

Lisa Jewell’s books synopses have often caught my interest, an appealing mix of psychological drama and mystery, but The Night She Disappeared is the first of her novels I have actually had the chance to read. My expectations were high…

Telling a story from multiple time points and switching character perspectives, a writing technique that builds tension and suspense by design, is one I always enjoy reading. Then pick a setting with multiple claustrophobic elements – small village, young motherhood, exclusive boarding school, and a luxurious historical house in the woods – insert an amateur sleuth (who is an author no less) and explore a highly topical issue such as ‘coercive control’ from multiple angles. Sounds like a recipe for success, right?

In The Night She Disappeared Jewell cultivates psychological intrigue with her multiple character viewpoint narrative and offers readers more than one empathetic character and a story told in highly accessible prose. However, this novel is not without its weaknesses. Only well past the halfway mark did the pacing and strong desire to turn the pages really kick in for me, and even then, the implausible timing of multiple recollections and the rushed resolution of a key storyline left me wanting more.

Don’t get me wrong, Lisa Jewell’s The Night She Disappeared is an engaging mystery read with, despite the quintessential bucket of red herrings, a few twists in the tail that readers will enjoy and be unlikely to see coming. And, this author’s legions of fans will undoubtedly make this title another bestseller. I have just read many far better-executed mystery thrillers from less-lauded writers.

BOOK RATING: The Story 3.5 / 5 ; The Writing 3 / 5 – Overall 3.25

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More The Night She Disappeared Reviews

‘Not every plot twist is plausible, but the backstory makes readers question everything they think they know as things cleverly unfold. Jewell is in top form in this suspenseful, satisfying story.’ – Publishers Weekly

The Night She Disappeared is a slightly slow-burning mystery, and there’s not a ton of twists and turns. Instead, it focuses heavily on the characters’ personal dramas, and it has a police procedural-feel to the story as one of the characters is essentially an amateur sleuth.’ – The Bibliofile

‘I’ve read a lot of thrillers recently. While The Night She Disappeared is not the title that springs to mind as the best that has passed through my hands, it is far from the worst. If you are looking for a reasonable story with a couple of elements that move beyond the stock-standard thriller, then this is the one for you.’ – Nerd Daily

About the Author, Lisa Jewell

Lisa Jewell was born in London. Her first novel, Ralph’s Party, was the bestselling debut novel of 1999. Since then she has published another sixteen novels, most recently a number of dark psychological thrillers, including The Girls and Then She Was Gone (both of which were Richard & Judy Book Club picks) as well as I Found You and Watching You. Lisa is a top ten New York Times and number one Sunday Times bestselling author who has been published worldwide in over twenty-five languages. She lives in north London with her husband, two daughters, two cats, two guinea pigs and the best dog in the world.

VIDEO: Watch The Night She Disappeared book trailer.

* My receipt of a review copy from the publisher did not impact the expression of my honest opinions above.