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  • Writer's pictureJudith D Collins

Safe and Sound

Narrator: Jorjeana Marie

Random House Audio

ISBN: 9780593448854

Publisher: Random House

Publication Date: 04/23/2024

Format: Hardcover

My Rating: 5 Stars (ARC)

Six years after their cousin vanished from their home while they were sleeping, two sisters set out to learn the truth behind what happened—even if it puts their own lives in danger—in this haunting thriller from the internationally bestselling author of What's Done in Darkness

In a town no one ever leaves, there are only so many places to hide.

As kids, Amelia and Kylee were found unharmed in their upstairs bedroom the night their teenage cousin Grace, who was babysitting them, vanished from the farmhouse in Beaumont, Missouri, leaving only a smear of blood on a door. Scrappy and driven, Grace had been on the verge of escaping their dead-end town, the first in their family to go to college instead of getting married and going to work at the meatpacking plant. Her disappearance is a warning to any local girl who dared hope for better.

Now, as their own high school graduation looms, Amelia and Kylee dream about getting out of Beaumont, but the likelihood of that happening seems as low as that of Grace being found. When human remains are discovered in town, the sisters think they finally know who took Grace—but as they dig deeper into her past, they unearth long-buried secrets and a growing list of suspects.

Amelia and Kylee vow to find Grace, dead or alive. But as they draw closer to the truth and slip deeper into danger, they question how far someone would go to put a woman in her place, or to cover up a crime. The answer is worse than they could have imagined, and in the end, it won’t just be Grace they’re trying to save—they’ll have to fight for their lives.

Laura's Books

My Review

Laura McHugh (my favorite author) returns following What's Done in Darkness with another haunting dark mystery thriller, SAFE AND SOUND. It is set in a claustrophobic small town in the Ozarks, where no one leaves, the feeling of being held captive is present, and there are few places to hide.

Darkly chilling, psychological, atmospheric, and compelling.

"Folks want to think it's strangers you gotta watch out for, but in a place like this, we eat our own."

As children, Amelia and Kylee were in Beaumont, Missouri, with their teenage cousin, Grace (their babysitter). Then she disappeared when they were hidden in the closet.

That was six years earlier, and no clues as to her whereabouts. Missing or dead.

Grace was excited to be so close to escaping this rural town after graduating from high school. Everyone wants to leave, but few are able to.

So what happened? The only clue was so much blood in the farmhouse. The three have always been close.

Amelia and Kylee are preparing to leave this dead-end town as Grace had always encouraged them. They want to find their cousin.

Then, the remains of a woman are found, and they wonder if it is Grace. They need a plan to uncover secrets in the town and their families. They also discover Grace is hiding secrets. Who can they trust?

The more they learn, the more dangerous their search becomes with a long list of suspects.

Told cleverly from POVs: Amelia and Kylee with alternating chapters as the past unfolds through Grace's POV.

Dark secrets and abuse are interwoven with multi-layered, well-developed characters and a strong bond between the girls. The atmospheric setting has darkness lurking on every page. You will love the girls' unique personalities, which are tenacious and determined.

SAFE AND SOUND is beautifully written, gritty, haunting, vivid, emotional, and gripping. Character-driven, written with lyrical prose, it is a raw look into the dark family secrets, evil, and the search for the truth. A big fan of the author, all her books are hauntingly beautiful!

If you have not previously read this author's books, I highly recommend them.

Thanks to Random House Publishing and NetGalley for an advanced reading digital copy. I look forward to listening to the audiobook narrated by (favorite), Jorjeana Marie.

@JudithDCollins | #JDCMustReadBooks

Pub Date: April 23, 2024

My Rating: 5 Stars


“McHugh seamlessly combines eerie mystery with gritty social realism, grounding the story’s hair-raising jolts in the emotional realities of her three-dimensional characters. Readers won’t be able to put this down.” —Publishers Weekly (starred review)

“[McHugh] deftly captures the hardships of a small and insular community with vivid detail. A suspenseful tale of resilience that will resonate with anyone who has ever yearned for a fresh start.”

—Kirkus Reviews

“As a long-time fan of Laura McHugh’s work, I was overjoyed to see she has another novel coming our way, set—like the books that precede it—amongst the hardscrabble corners of rural Missouri. . . . McHugh has a precise skill for capturing the low-grade anxieties embedded in many small towns; her stories are taut with that strain, and relish in exploring what happens when the string finally snaps.”


“Safe and Sound, by Laura McHugh, is a haunting, intricately layered, and lyrical novel about family secrets, unspoken evil, and the search for the truth, no matter the costs. McHugh masterfully evokes the fabric and landscape of small-town life, the need to escape, and the bonds that hold you tight. Beautifully written, unflinchingly told, and relentlessly suspenseful, Safe and Sound belongs at the top of every to-be-read list.”

—Heather Gudenkauf, New York Times bestselling author of The Overnight Guest and Everyone Is Watching

“An evocative, riveting, and gorgeously written mystery, Safe and Sound is a finely detailed exploration of complicated familial bonds and the ways in which our upbringing can hold us captive, even when we try our hardest to break free of the things that haunt us. McHugh is never afraid to take her readers to dark places, and this novel will have you turning pages long into the night.”

—Amy Engel, author of I Did It For You and The Roanoke Girls

About the Author

About my writing...My novels are often inspired by true crimes, but at the heart of each story, I am writing about families: their secrets, their tragedies, and the powerful, complicated bonds of blood.

All of my work is set in the Midwest and the Ozarks, where I was raised.

Laura McHugh is the award-winning, internationally-bestselling author of novels The Weight of Blood, Arrowood, The Wolf Wants In, What's Done in Darkness, and Safe and Sound. The Weight of Blood won the International Thriller Writers Award and the Silver Falchion Award for Best First Novel and the Missouri Author Award for Fiction, and was named a Best Book of the Year by BookPage, the Kansas City Star, and the Sunday Times in the UK. Arrowood was a finalist for the International Thriller Writers Award for Best Novel, The Wolf Wants In was named a Best Book of the Year by Library Journal, and What's Done in Darkness won the Missouri Literary Award. McHugh’s work has also been nominated for an American Library Association Alex Award, a Barry Award, a GoodReads Choice Award, and a Pushcart Prize. McHugh lives in Missouri with her family

A little more about me...I grew up in small towns in Iowa and Missouri, the youngest of eight kids, and I've been writing stories all my life, but a career as a writer never seemed like a real possibility. A first-generation college student, I earned an English degree, but then went on to get degrees in more "practical" fields—computer science and library & information science—and worked as a software developer for ten years, most of that time in the basement of an insurance company. When I was pregnant with my second child, I was laid off from my job, and that's when I decided to write a novel. It seemed like a crazy thing to do under the circumstances, but I knew I would regret it if I never tried. That novel became The Weight of Blood. WEBSITE







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