Updated: Jan 24
Hello everyone, Matthew Hemenway here. In this blog, I will be reviewing and analyzing a book called Before She Disappeared by Lisa Gardener which I read on my Amazon Kindle. One of the texts on the cover says we all have ways of disappearing. I liked that it comes with an audio version of the book as well. I will go over several topics that I saw in this book.
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This book starts off extremely fast and is a big puzzle which to be honest I like. Books to me that start off fast and keep the reader guessing to me keep the reader entertained and engaged. It starts off with Frankie Elkin who is not a police officer and PI, she is just a normal citizen going around solving crimes and trying to find missing people especially females who are forgotten by society. Her mother was a workaholic, and her father was an alcoholic. Frankie comes from Northern California and she herself is an alcoholic. She cannot touch a drink without her becoming addicted. She must attend an AA meeting to be able to talk to those who can relate to her.
One of cases, they talk about in this book is the Lani Whitehorse case where she was having to solve this case dealing with the tribal police. Believe me, the tribal police would not be happy with her sticking her nose where they feel it does not belong. She found her, but not alive. She failed at all of them in terms of bringing them home alive. That can happen as we all know; the police fail at finding missing people more than they find them alive.
We later find out that Frankie goes to Boston in the story and that it is told in the first person and that Frankie is the narrator of this story. She lands at Stoney’s bar and asks for a job from Stoney. Stoney refuses at first, but she later convinces him to have her work there while she lives there with the cat Piper. Piper helps to deal with the rodent problem that is in Stoney’s bar. Frankie tells Stoney that her wit will be enough to deal with the rowdy customers, but Stoney told her if that fails; use the baseball bat.
Another storytelling style is that it uses flashbacks to go back to Frankie’s husband Paul. Frankie is a widow, and her husband was gunned down at a convenience store. It tends to flash back for her to this event when she knew she was trying to get a drink of alcohol. She feels guilty to what happened to Paul.
Frankie does not use any fancy technology; all she uses is a TracFone. She just uses tactical pins she keeps in her hair for when she must deal with confrontations. Later, she meets with Ricardo O’Shaughnessy who is the officer that deals with the Mattapan Neighborhood. Ricardo’s father is Irish, and his mother is Hattian. The missing person’s case that Frankie Elkin is looking into is the Angelique Badeau and Livia Smadi case.
Frankie later meets with Dan Lotham who is the lead detective on the case, and he used to serve in the military. While meeting with him, Frankie picks up that Dan cares about this case and hopes to bring both girls back home. There is a tension between Frankie and Dan and is not that Dan does not like her. Dan does like her, and she likes him as well. It is closer to sexual tension to say the least.
The biggest clue and the biggest puzzle piece are the Rec Center where these teens are known to go to. The director is Frederic Lagudu. This is where Angelique Badeau and Livia Smadi met. Angelique and one of her best friends Marjolie went to the Rec Center for the Summer. Marjolie got involved with Donny J who was creating fake IDs to get into clubs that are over 21. Angelique calls Donny J out and embarrasses him right in front of everyone saying these IDs are of inferior quality and he should refund everyone’s money back. Livia Smadi also voices out and says the same thing.
Both Angelique and Livia’s families came from Haiti after the big 2010 earthquake. Angelique wants to get into college early so that she can get a visa for herself and her family as well as Livia and her family. Creating fake driver licenses was the big fraud, but it got bigger. The swindle got bigger in the kidnappers want them to create this fake college. The fake college would result in being able for people to get real visas. Livia was good in computer graphics or design according to Mr. Riddenscail.
They mentioned this in the story, ICE used a fake college to trap immigrants into believing they were going to a real school when it was all a ploy to get them to fall in the trap. The criminals are doing the same thing, expect their goal is different than ICE, it is to make money instead. Believe me, as the story tells us, there is money to be made here.
Frankie gets help from Angelique’s brother Emanuel as he is very smart and knows a lot about computers. He helps to figure out the piece to the puzzle to Lili’s breadcrumbs that she was leaving for people or the police to follow. Guerline who is Angelique and Emanuel's aunt is a nice person but is scared and angry as we all can understand. Emanuel helps Frankie and the police to follow the breadcrumbs that is left by Angelique.
We learn while Frankie works in the bar that Viv tells her that yes that can happen. She says believe me, any teen can get access to a fake ID with the right help to get into clubs or to buy beer if they want to. As we all know that clubs or bars require fake IDS if you are underage to get in or to buy alcohol.
Frankie meets Charlie at an AA meeting who becomes a tremendous help to her as he volunteered at the Rec Center. Charlie lets her know the red hat that Livia Smadi was wearing was not a common hat in Boston. Most of the hats in Boston are black or blue as most people are wearing them for their favorite teams. As we know the other hat that would be worn would be green for the Boston Celtics.
Livia Smadi’s family lives in a bad neighborhood and Livia’s mother told Frankie Elkin not to bring her back. Livia’s mother understood; this was no place for a girl to be raised in or live. JJ or Johnson does not like Frankie Elkin. Frankie gets shot at, but not by JJ.
This case is one big puzzle after another. The reader thinks he or she knows what is happening, but the reader does not. Personally, I liked that it did that. The reason I say this later in the story; we learn that Frankie was shot by Livia’s and JJs half-brother. I personally agreed with Frankie and we both thought that Livia’s and JJs half-brother was the one being in charge, but he was not.
I will leave you with several questions. Does Frankie Elkin save Angelique Badeau or not? Does Frankie save Livia Smadi or not? How does Charlie help Frankie? What connection does Frederic Lagudu have too all of this? How did Livia meet up with her half-brother? How do you think Angelique got taken? How much time passed between Angelique and Livia’s abductions? How many people die in this story? What role does Dan Lotham play? These are questions that I will leave you with.
I give this story a 10 out of 10. I thought that it was well done, and it started out an amazingly fast pace. It keeps the reader engaged and as a reader, believe me the reader does not want to put it down. I liked that it came with an audio version as you can hear the person’s voice while reading the book. If you travel, it gets you a chance to listen to this book and that is a plus.
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