I was granted eARC access to When the Star Go Dark by Ballantine Books via NetGalley. Thank you for the opportunity! My thoughts are my own and my review is honest.
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About the Book
When the Stars Go Dark
by Paula McLain
Published 13 April 2021
Genre: Historical Thriller
Page Count: 415
Add it to your Goodreads TBR!
Anna Hart is a missing persons detective in San Francisco. When tragedy strikes her personal life, Anna, desperate and numb, flees to the Northern California village of Mendocino to grieve. She lived there as a child with her beloved foster parents, and now she believes it might be the only place left for her. Yet the day she arrives, she learns a local teenage girl has gone missing. The crime feels frighteningly reminiscent of the most crucial time in Anna’s childhood, when the unsolved murder of a young girl touched Mendocino and changed the community forever. As past and present collide, Anna realizes that she has been led to this moment. The most difficult lessons of her life have given her insight into how victims come into contact with violent predators. As Anna becomes obsessed with the missing girl, she must accept that true courage means getting out of her own way and learning to let others in.
Weaving together actual cases of missing persons, trauma theory, and a hint of the metaphysical, this propulsive and deeply affecting novel tells a story of fate, necessary redemption, and what it takes, when the worst happens, to reclaim our lives–and our faith in one another.
From the New York Times bestselling author of The Paris Wife comes a novel of intertwined destinies and heart-wrenching suspense: A detective hiding away from the world. A series of disappearances that reach into her past. Can solving them help her heal?
My Rating: 5 Stars
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When the Stars Go Dark is the story of a grieving mother who runs off to her hometown (well, the only town in her foster system youth that felt like home) and finds herself wrapped up in a few missing girl cases. As she works to help solve these cases, she’s also working toward being ready to forgive herself and begin her own healing process.
There have been people in my circle discussing this book and boiling it down to “beautiful writing but too much happened.” I must politely but emphatically disagree! This book does such an amazing job of what life is like in the fallout of unbelievable trauma and I wouldn’t change a thing. It’s perfect. This book scratches the itch that particular episodes of shows like Criminal Minds scratch for me; the ones that still profile people and catch bad guys, but also delve into the troubled past of one of the good guys we’ve grown to care about and understand a little more about how they got here. This is the Derek Morgan’s youth at the community centre episode. This is the cadette hopeful Ashley Seaver falling for the serial killer’s trap episode. This is the finally solving Rossi’s 20-year-old cold case episode. There are so many little details, so many other things going on, an actual crime that gets solved and an actual bad guy that gets caught, but more satisfyingly we see what the good guy hides, what makes them tick. We see them finally bring it out into the light of day, examine it, and finally decide to take a healthy action on it. That’s Anna’s story in this book.
I don’t know if this book (or those episodes) stands out as so beautifully, tragically perfect and impactful to me simply because they are in general, or if this is the sort of thing that can only be appreciated by another survivor’s damaged soul. Either way, my soul is saying a big, heartfelt and heartbroken namaste to Anna and to Paula.
I’ve also got to acknowledge that the dog named Cricket brought such a big grin to my face every time the name was mentioned. An old friend of mine got a puppy during the pandemic and named her Cricket, and she’s the brightest, cutest, goofiest 11-month-old bundle of legs and fluff right now. I know how the dog in the book was described looks nothing at all like my friend’s border collie, but my mind’s eye inserted that Cricket, which then somewhat transformed Anna into my friend, border collie Cricket’s owner. Random, interesting, completely unintended touchstone for the win.
I would recommend this book to any fan of general fiction or crime fiction who wants to feel a whole bunch of emotions in bulk quantities for the entire length of the book!
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