Judith D Collins
The Missing Place
By Sophie Littlefield
Publisher: Gallery Books
Publication Date: 10/14/2014
My Rating: 5 Stars
Set against the backdrop of North Dakota’s oil boom, two very different mothers form an uneasy alliance to find their missing sons in this heartrending and suspenseful novel from the Edgar Award–nominated author of Garden of Stones.
The booming North Dakota oil business is spawning “man camps,” shantytowns full of men hired to work on the rigs, in towns without enough housing to accommodate them. In such twilight spaces, it’s easy for a person to vanish. And when two young men in their first year on the job disappear without a trace, only their mothers believe there’s hope of finding them.
Despite reassurances that the police are on the case, the two women think the oil company is covering up the disappearances—and maybe something more.
Colleen, used to her decorous life in a wealthy Massachusetts suburb, is determined to find her son. And hard-bitten Shay, from the wrong side of the California tracks, is the only person in town even willing to deal with her—because she’s on the same mission.
Overtaxed by worry, exhaustion, and fear, these two unlikely partners question each other’s methods and motivations, but must work together against the town of strangers if they want any chance of finding their lost boys. But what they uncover could destroy them both...
Sure to please fans of Sandra Brown and Gillian Flynn, The Missing Place is a moving chronicle of survival, determination, and powerful bonds forged in the face of adversity.
A special thank you to Gallery, Threshold, Pocket Books and NetGalley for an ARC in exchange for an honest review.
The Missing Place by Sophie Littlefield, an intense, page-turner mystery of two strong and opposite female protagonists; willing to risk it all, in order to save their sons from the cold dark town and oil fields in North Dakota. If you are seeking a weekend book to curl up with, for a guaranteed intriguing, satisfying and engaging ride, this is it!
Two boys (Taylor and Paul) go missing the same day in Lawton, North Dakota where they are working on an oil rig and staying at the Black Creek Lodge. All the hotels are full due to the workers, and the size of the small town. (Think a big Walmart, a few hotels, trailer parks, and truck stops). When two mothers cannot get any answers from the local authorities or the energy company, they both set out a dangerous quest to attain answers about their sons. (stuck in a small trailer)
Two mothers (have never met one another): Shay, (mother of Taylor), is an in your face, brash, passionate, single mom; street smart, low on cash, from the wrong side of the tracks in California. She has an honest and open relationship with her son and they are very close. She will do anything to find him (and boy, is she creative and resourceful).
Colleen, (mother of ADHD dyslexic son, Paul), wealthy housewife from Boston, with her classic pearls and cashmere sweaters, and perfect hair-married to Andy, a successful attorney, has connections and money and level headed. She can open doors Shay cannot. Each have their own strengths. She and her son have a “not so close” and strained relationship. She is overprotective and controlling, due to Paul’s past behavior issues.
First, let me say, I loved the front cover, and the summary, as I knew this would be a book, I had to read and have been saving it. It exceeded my expectations and more. A definite 5 Star +. This was my first book by Littlefield and cannot wait to read more, as love her style! Told from three POV (Shay, Colleen, and T.L), which I enjoyed as you learn the intimate thoughts, actions, reactions, and raw feelings from different viewpoints.
There is sooooo much to this story, as a former whistleblower, I love uncovering misdeeds of large corporations as root for the underdog and those threatened. However, this was not just a story about the mishaps, cover-ups, and corruption of Hunter-Cole Energy.
There is the Indian Reservation and land leases, and how these people have been taken advantage of. An innocent boy, with sins of the father and a past history of characters from the sheriff’s office to the Indian Reservation, which have been passed down to the next generation.
More importantly is the human interest side of the novel, written with great depth and vivid settings and descriptions, pulling the reader into this unsure world, not knowing who they can trust. This is no ordinary crime mystery. It is thought-provoking in so many ways and much left to the reader to draw conclusions.
Littlefield skillfully crafts a riveting suspense which keeps you glued to the page with her well-developed characters. (A read in one setting kind of book). Block out the time, it is worth it!
The dynamics between these two women (Shay and Colleen)—Award-winning! These two women could not be any different – two mothers stuck in a small trailer with no restroom or kitchen, in the cold of winter, going to the truck stop to dine and take their showers, their differences in clothes, the disagreements, not knowing what the other will do next, their different ways of child rearing, and personalities. Full of wit and humor as the scene with Shay, the attorney, the camera in the hotel room was priceless! What they go through to get answers – highly creative on the author’s part.
Yes, agree with some of the other reviewers, the first 75% of the book was intense and then you wonder what is to come in the last 25%. The pace slows down. However, this is not a bad thing. During the last 25% of the book, these two women are now figuring out how to live with the past, the fallout, and learning from one another- their strengths and weaknesses. It turns into a human interest story – how things would have been different, what brought them to this place. The stages from grief, anger, forgiveness, to acceptance. Being in the wrong place at the wrong time. The part each character played through desperation, fear, and survival.
Shay is definitely the stronger of the two, as she is a spitfire; however, Colleen is strong in her own way as she has put focus and energy into protecting and sheltering her son, while not allowing him to really live and experience life, to fail and learn from the experience.
For Colleen, it is always about clean up, cover it up, save face. However, Colleen keeps Shay level headed at times and Shay helps Colleen see life as living and enjoying, not so much about money and appearances, (learned behavior traits Colleen inherited from her mom).
I realize you can only fit so much in one book; however, thinking it could almost be a sequel, with another story of Andy and his work to help the Indian Reservation, and TL; also more about the family dynamics of Elizabeth (as what brought her to do what she did), her family, and connection with TL’s family history. In addition, Colleen and Andy have issues which were left undone.
Highly recommend THE MISSING PLACE, and fans of intense drama, mystery, suspense, female dynamics, and rich characters will enjoy, as well as fans of authors, Diane Chamberlain, Heather Gudenkauf, Emilie Richards, and Sandra Brown. Looking forward to reading more from this talented author! An ideal book for book clubs, groups and discussions!
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