Before She Disappeared
By: Lisa Gardner
Publication Date: 01/19/2021
My Rating: 5 Stars +++ Author Q&A Interview
Jan 19, 2021
Top Books 2021 From #1 New York Times bestselling author Lisa Gardner, a propulsive thriller featuring an ordinary woman who will stop at nothing to find the missing people that the rest of the world has forgotten. Frankie Elkin is an average middle-aged woman, a recovering alcoholic with more regrets than belongings. But she spends her life doing what no one else will--searching for missing people the world has stopped looking for. When the police have given up, when the public no longer remembers, when the media has never paid attention, Frankie starts looking. A new case brings her to Mattapan, a Boston neighborhood with a rough reputation. She is searching for Angelique Badeau, a Haitian teenager who vanished from her high school months earlier. Resistance from the Boston PD and the victim's wary family tells Frankie she's on her own--and she soon learns she's asking questions someone doesn't want answered. But Frankie will stop at nothing to discover the truth, even if it means the next person to go missing could be her.
Named one of 2021's Most Anticipated Books by "Good Morning America," CrimeReads, and Mystery Tribune
An Amazon January Bestseller
“[An] outstanding crime novel…."Gardner pulls no punches in this socially conscious standalone.”
—Publishers Weekly (starred review)
“Fans of this incredible author, police procedurals, timely immigrant stories, strong determined women, and tales that are not tied up with a pretty bow at the end will not be able to get enough of this intense page-turner."
—Library Journal (starred review)
"Tense and immersive, Gardner’s latest…is a sure bet both for readers drawn to gritty gumshoe fiction and for the growing legion of true-crime podcast fans.”
—Booklist (Starred Review)
“In this rare standalone, the prolific Gardner has come up with one of the most original characters in recent crime fiction, a woman, readers can care about even while not being entirely sure of what to make of her.”
"Lisa Gardner is the master of the psychological thriller."
“An exceptional amateur sleuth thriller…a very recommendable read.”
—Mystery and Suspense
“As Frankie’s investigation progresses, it offers an up-close look into some of the issues that plague American society today—racism, antipathy toward immigrants, and the trafficking of young women—while providing a blistering narrative and sympathetic characters…Before She Disappeared is billed as a standalone, but I’m thinking it would be the perfect setup for a terrific series.”
"Fascinating . . . A page-turner about the search for a missing teenage girl in Boston and the mysterious woman obsessed with finding her."
—The Big Thrill
"Hang on to some of the best moments in storytelling by the master herself Lisa Gardner. Before She Disappeared may just be one of her best . . .
and that is saying a lot."
“Frankie Elkin is a heroine for the ages.”
—Tess Gerritsen New York Times bestselling author
“Before She Disappeared has a gutsy heroine, a timely, fascinating storyline, and a real sense of anticipation that kept me turning the pages.”
—Tami Hoag, New York Times bestselling author
“Before She Disappeared is a first-class crime novel by a master of the thriller genre. I highly recommend it.”
—David Baldacci, New York Times bestselling author
“To read Lisa Gardner is to put yourself in the hands of a master storyteller. In Before She Disappeared, she gives us a crackling mystery, gritty atmosphere, and an unforgettable heroine. I loved the damaged, determined Frankie Elkin. You will, too.”
— Riley Sager, bestselling author of Home Before Dark
“Nuanced and complex, Before She Disappeared proves once more Lisa Gardner knows how to set a hook better than anyone. It’s a ‘just one more chapter’ thriller that will have you reading into the night. I loved it.”
—Gregg Olsen, bestselling author of Water's Edge
Celebrating 20 years—one of the "best" crime thriller writers out today, the #1 New York Times bestselling author, Lisa Gardner delivers a killer standalone, BEFORE SHE DISAPPEARED with the introduction of a new unstoppable heroine, Frankie Elkin.
If you are a fan of Gardner's Boston Detective D.D. Warren, FBI Agent Kimberly Quincy, and vigilante Flora Dane, you are assured to root for Frankie Elkin—an expert in missing persons.
Frankie reminds me a big of Flora, in fact.
Frankie is not a police officer nor a PI.
She has no prior skills or special training.
She is only an average, middle-aged white woman with more regrets than belongings, more sad stories than happy ones.
She works best when the police have given up, the public no longer remembers, when the media has never bothered to care. She starts looking. She wants no money, no recognition, and no help. She travels all around the country. She volunteers her time.
Frankie's past torments her. She is an alcoholic, an ex-lover, and a lost soul. As an amateur sleuth, she can solve cold cases when the best of technology and authorities have given up and some of the families.
She is driven. She knows how to ask the right questions. The families trust her. She looks where no one else has thought to look. The authorities do not always welcome her or the families, until they see her in action. She is tenacious and will stop at nothing, even risking her own life to find the missing person.
She has a super track record. However, she still strives to locate the victim before they are dead. She will live and work and travel wherever she is needed. She works alone.
Frankie is passionate and determined. She travels light. She carries no smartphone or electronics. She has a Tracfone and a screwdriver kit that doubles as a hair clip. She is street smart and fearless. She listens, she relates. She has a heart of gold.
As the book opens, Frankie finds a body when no one else could. Now it is time for her next case.
BEFORE SHE DISAPPEARED is set in Mattapan, a neighborhood of diverse cultures in Boston in a high-crime area. Native Americans, Irish, Jewish, and Haitian immigrants are now home to a large African American and Caribbean community.
Frankie, in particular, helps minorities. She takes a job as a bartender (she like to face the booze-monster head on) in the small town where she sticks out, and the job comes with a room upstairs at a fair price and a cantankerous cat, Piper. Stoney, the owner, does not say much, but he is observant. Viv, the woman cook, takes her under her wing. Stoney has a thing for strays and recognizes a lost soul when he sees one.
She must find Angelique Badeau. Sixteen years old. Her goal is to bring her home alive.
Her aunt, Guerline, and brother Emmanuel finally learn to trust her. Angelique left school one day and has not been seen since. That was eleven months ago. She also had two friends, Kyra and Marjolie. Very smart, good grades, ambitious, and no boyfriends.
Thus far, she has found no one alive and determined this will be the first. However, as she gets closer to the truth with the help of Emmanuel and his computer skills, she is in danger and the family. Nothing will stand in her way!
I loved Frankie and Detective Lotham! What a great cast of characters. Frankie has lots of support, as each person gets to know her quirky ways. True-crime fans will find a lot to like here!
Multi-layered, a raw, gritty, INTENSE, compelling, and riveting page-turner standalone you will not be able to put down. I am hoping we see Frankie again in a series!
Grief and loss are topics interwoven in the novel. There are plenty of raw emotions from all sides, especially the family searching for missing loved ones, which can turn cold with little hope.
Gardner dives deep into the police procedures and criminal minds (in all her books), and this time around, she adds one more perspective, an amateur sleuth. Always great research. She draws you in from page one and never lets go.
I enjoyed learning about this diverse city and its characters. A top book of 2021! Do not miss this one. Lisa continues to be my favorite crime author out today, and I cannot wait to see more Frankie, DD Warren, Flora Dane, and Kimberly Quincy.
"Memories sear. I have so many of them now. They're not precious moments, but burning hot coals I keep picking up and turning over in my mind. They hurt. I study them harder. They burn deeper. I come back for more." —Frankie
Q&A With Lisa Gardner
Jan 19, 2021
About the Author
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.
For a bit of fun, Lisa invites her readers to enter the annual “Kill a Friend, Maim a Buddy” Sweepstakes at LisaGardner.com. Every year, one Lucky Stiff is selected to meet a grand end in Lisa’s latest novel. Past winners have nominated spouses, best friends and even themselves.
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.