Tuesday, October 31, 2017

Book Review: "Two Girls Down" by Louisa Luna

I love when a book you stumble upon by an author you're not familiar with turns out to be a terrific read. Such was the case with Louisa Luna's Two Girls Down. It's a well-written, suspenseful whodunnit with some pretty fascinating characters.

A single mother, sometimes Jamie Brandt just needs a break from her two daughters, 10-year-old Kylie and 8-year-old Bailey. They're always wanting something, needing something, and she's just tired. What she wouldn't give for a few minutes of peace.

On the way to a birthday party, Jamie and the girls stop at a strip mall so Jamie can pick up a gift. She's just going to be five minutes, and she knows letting the girls come into the store will only lead to fighting, whining, and chaos, so she leaves them in the car with the ignition running. When she comes out of the store about 10 minutes later, her car is there but the girls are missing.

With the town's police force stretched beyond its means due to budget cuts and a growing drug epidemic, Jamie's family hires Alice Vega, an unorthodox bounty hunter with a good record of finding missing children. The local police don't take too kindly to Alice's involvement in the girls' case despite the fact they can't devote any resources to it, so she decides to turn to Max "Cap" Caplan, a former police detective who resigned from the force in disgrace.

Cap is trying to put his past life behind him, but it isn't rewarding taking pictures of cheating spouses and tracking down bail skips, so as much as he wants to avoid interacting with his former colleagues, there's something about Alice Vega that draws him in.

Alice and Cap make a commanding pair, and they start making progress on trying to find out what happened to the girls, which of course leads to the inevitable run-ins with the police. Little by little they have to determine which leads are false and which have potential, which people pose a threat and which people were merely in the wrong place at the wrong time, and uncover just how deep this crime runs within the town. At the same time, Alice and Cap have to struggle with their own demons, knowing every second they delay or ponder could result in the girls' deaths, if they aren't dead already.

I thought Luna did a great job with this book. Like with so many mysteries, I suspected nearly every character that popped up in the narrative, and I kept hoping she wouldn't disappoint me by taking the easy way out. I thought the resolution of the story was a little more complicated that it needed to be, but it definitely affected me, because as depressing as it was, I know that Luna didn't just invent this scenario out of whole cloth.

There was a good amount of tension and some great action, I thought Cap was a terrific character, and Alice is a bit of a badass! Luna knew how to ratchet up the suspense and toss in some characters you can't figure out if you should root for them or not. I don't know whether she intends this to become a series, but I hope to see more of Alice and Cap. There's so much I'd love to know about their backstories, too.

I really enjoyed this and read most of the book in one day. I'll definitely be looking for the next book in Luna's career! This one is worth a read!!

NetGalley and Doubleday provided me an advance copy of the book in exchange for an unbiased review. Thanks for making this available!

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