“Everyone has scars. Even if they’re not on the outside.”
Our protagonist is Ella Santos – though now she goes by the name of Laine Moreno. When she was just ten years old she was abducted and held hostage for three years – bound – in a cellar. Raped repeatedly, she was finally driven to a roadside and released. Thirteen years old, pregnant, and permanently damaged…
“My life ended in that basement. It’s just that my body forgot to die for some reason.”
We meet her ten years later. She often has suicidal thoughts, she abuses drugs and alcohol, and she is alone – very alone. She works in a Seattle grocery store by day and at night she works as a bartender in a strip club. She lives a solitary life broken by episodes of being high. She wears long sleeved clothing and boots all the time to hide the scars on her wrists and ankles. She trusts no one and alienates anyone who tries to befriend her.
Then one day she sees a flyer with the photo of another ten year old girl who is missing. The girl reminds her of herself.
The detective on the case is Sean Ortiz. The very same detective who found Laine on the roadside after she was released at age thirteen. The first face she saw after years in captivity.
If you like reading novels that explore the darker side of human nature, this just might be the book for you. With themes of abduction, rape, drug abuse, and more, this novel won’t leave you with a warm and fuzzy feeling that is for sure.
The rainy Seattle area setting was perfect as the setting exacerbated the dark subject matter.
Considering this was the author’s debut novel, I thought the writing was outstanding. The book was dark yes, but the pace was fast and the characters well rendered. Sad, to the point of despair – yet even though we cannot fully understand the protagonist’s psyche, we can empathize with her – and we do.
If you like novels that depict very flawed characters, I’m sure you will enjoy “Girl Last Seen”. Laine is one of the most flawed protagonists I’ve read recently – and that is saying something.
I found myself riveted to the book, much to my dismay at times. It was SO dark, so twisted… Now I find myself very much looking forward to reading this author’s other two novels. They are both on my TBR.
Nina Laurin is the author of two bestselling psychological thrillers, both out with Grand Central Publishing. Arriving in Montreal when she was just twelve years old, she speaks and reads in Russian, French, and English, but writes her novels in English. She wrote her first novel while getting her creative writing degree from Concordia University, and GIRL LAST SEEN was published a year later in 2017. The follow-up, WHAT MY SISTER KNEW, came out on June 19th 2018 to critical acclaim. Nina is fascinated by the darker side of mundane things, and she’s always on the lookout for her next twisted book idea.
Nina Laurin was interviewed recently in “The Big Thrill” magazine. Check out that interview here.
Follow Nina Laurin on Twitter.