By: Angie Haddock
In the early hours of Saturday 17 December 2011, Zoe Nolan, a nineteen-year-old Manchester University student, walked out of a party taking place in the shared accommodation where she had been living for three months.
Seven years after her disappearance, struggling writer Evelyn Mitchell finds herself drawn into the mystery. Through interviews with Zoe’s closest friends and family, she begins piecing together what really happened in 2011.
If you’re a fan of true crime shows or podcasts, this one’s for you! But a note up front: this book is completely fictional. It just mimics true crime as a genre. Misleading, I know.
But, the format works. The story is told entirely through interviews and emails, with a few (also fake) “editor’s notes” along the way. It makes it fast and easy to read.
Overall, I liked the story here. We’re given a lot of random details, and a lot of twisted characters. Which details are actually important to the case? Which characters had enough of a motive to make someone disappear? And is Zoe dead, or just hiding out somewhere?
One core group of characters are her school mates. Zoe lived in a university flat with several other girls, including her twin sister, Kim. Kim has always lived in Zoe’s shadow, and resents being stuck with her at college. Other flatmates include Alex, who is battling depression, using drugs, and possibly juggling two boyfriends. And Liu Wai, who is kind of a suck up who thinks Zoe is perfect.
Zoe also has a boyfriend, Andrew, who comes from a rich family. They barely get along. His roommate, Jai, is a photographer and a drug dealer who is hard up for money.
There are various other characters introduced – parents, police, professors, etc. – but I think you can already see that everyone has kind of a messy life, which leaves no one’s motives and whereabouts totally “clear cut.”
There are also several mysteries within the bigger one of Zoe’s disappearance. One that comes up in a few different ways relates to the fact that people can sometimes mistake her for Kim, and vice versa. Kim comes out with a confession, years later, that she had been kidnapped a month before Zoe’s disappearance. So, had those kidnappers been after Zoe the whole time? Are the events linked?
If you like a good mystery with lots of tangled storylines, this one could be right up your alley.
I was able to read this book for free through the Sourcebooks Early Reads program.