“If you hoard other people’s tragedies, does that make your own easier to bear?”Frankie Elkin is, in her own words, a scrawny, middle-aged white woman. She is a drifter, an excellent bartender, and an alcoholic. For the past decade, Frankie has been sober and devoting her life to finding missing persons. Usually people who are minorities, whose cases have gone cold. She has found many of these people, though not all of them alive.
“Why do I do what I do? Because at the end of the day, the people left behind matter as much as the ones who are missing. We mourn the ones we’ve lost, but we agonize over the pieces of ourselves they took with them.”
Now Frankie finds herself in a Wyoming National Forest, the Popo Agie Wilderness Area to be exact. Her people skills won’t help her here. This is a whole new ballgame.
Frankie gets herself involved in a search for a young man who went missing five years previously. The young man’s mother is dying of cancer and she wants her son’s body found so that they can be buried together.
Frankie accompanies a team comprised of the young man’s father, a local wilderness guide, three of the man’s friends, a bigfoot hunter, a search and rescue dog handler and her search/cadaver dog, Daisy.
Frankie is courageous, lonely, wise-cracking, impulsive, driven by her demons, and most of all…. broken. She shuns personal possessions and travels light. At all times she lives by her instincts, and is an outsider wherever she goes… She is adept at judging the character of the people she meets and appreciates kindness.
“In this day and age, we all talk too much and hear too little.”
Frankie Elkin is unique, damaged, and so very memorable. I loved her and was sad when I turned the last page on her story when I read “Before She Disappeared“. I feel the same way now… Frankie is so endearing in her own stubborn, slightly reserved way. She is fast becoming my all-time favorite fictional character.
She is out of her usual urban element and it tests her in ways both physical and emotional. Driven by some unknown compulsion to bring back the body of a young man to his mother, she risks life and limb in her efforts.
I adored the writing in this book. The dreadful and disturbing circumstances which were lightened with levity and sarcasm. Many themes run through this page-turning narrative, the most predominant ones being guilt, remorse, loss, and human connection.
This is a character-driven thriller and an epic adventure of wilderness survival wrapped up into one.
Gosh… do I have to wait until next January to read more Frankie Elkin? Write faster Lisa Gardner!
Highly recommended! ALL THE STARS!This review was written voluntarily and my rating was in no way influenced by the fact that I received a complimentary digital copy of this novel from Cornerstone/Random House UK via NetGalley.Publication date: January 20, 2022
Publisher: Century/Cornerstone/Random House UK
Publisher in North America: Dutton
ISBN:9781529135565 ISBN: 9781529157895
ASIN: B094V9CQWQ 410 pages
Lisa Gardner, a #1 New York Times bestselling thriller novelist, began her career in food service, but after catching her hair on fire numerous times, she took the hint and focused on writing instead. A self-described research junkie, she has transformed her interest in police procedure and criminal minds into a streak of internationally acclaimed novels, published across 30 countries. She’s also had four books become TV movies (At the Midnight Hour; The Perfect Husband; The Survivors Club; Hide) and has made personal appearances on TruTV and CNN.
Lisa’s books have received awards from across the globe. Her novel, The Neighbor, won Best Hardcover Novel from the International Thriller Writers, while also receiving the Grand Prix des Lectrices de Elle in France. She was also recognized with the Daphne du Maurier Award in 2000 for The Other Daughter. Finally, Lisa received the Silver Bullet Award from the International Thriller Writers in 2017 for her work on behalf of at-risk children and the Humane Society.
Lisa lives in New Hampshire where she spends her time with an assortment of canine companions. When not writing, she loves to hike, garden, snowshoe and play cribbage.