• The Bossy Bookworm

Review of Before She Disappeared by Lisa Gardner

Gardner's brand-new character-driven mystery offers an imperfect, unassuming heroine obsessed with solving the cold cases of missing women and girls.

Frankie Elkin isn't a cop and she isn't a private investigator. She's an unassuming middle-aged woman and a recovering alcoholic who has a compulsion: to locate missing women and girls the authorities haven't been able to find. She also has ghosts in her past that she's trying to outrun.


Frankie travels the country tracking lost women, moving into communities with little more than a change of clothes, a flip phone, and an open mind, then doggedly following her instincts. She cares about the women she's seeking, and she's not afraid to ask uncomfortable questions.


I loved how Gardner took Frankie and the others investigating the situation through realistically zigzagging paths of information, supposition, hunches, and a few dead ends before reaching the final resolution. This didn't feel frustrating to me as the reader, yet the facts don't give themselves up too easily. Frankie is required to show extreme mental and physical fortitude, and the heroes here are all variously and interestingly faulted. The story feels urgent and realistically complicated, and Gardner doesn't rely on red herrings. She also clearly did her research into the ins and outs of the situation at the center of the trouble here.


This is my first Lisa Gardner book, and I love how character driven the mystery was. I'm in for more more more.

Any Bossy thoughts about this book?

If you read it, please let me know what you think!


Gardner has written many, many books in multiple series, but I'm excited that her books are new to me.


I received an advance reader copy of this book, published January 19, through Dutton Books and NetGalley.