“And Now She’s Gone” is a complex story that unfolds layer by layer like pealing an onion. A frantic opening grabs readers with action and construction that reinforces the panic with short abrupt sentences filled with quick thoughts and desperate observations. This is a frantic ride readers might not have anticipated. Grayson Sykes is a PI, and she knows that in her business, everyone lies; everyone leaves something out of the narrative. She is searching for a missing girlfriend and the dog she stole. Women who vanish rarely get caught; they just want a new beginning. However, the truth is rarely pure and never simple.
Hall writes in the language of conversation, speaking to readers the way people speak to each other. Descriptions evoke all senses, and the language is rich with metaphors. People are as “real as Parmesan cheese from a green can.” Los Angeles smells like “tar, fire, barbecue ribs, and weed.” Lightning explodes in “the color of crayons— Atomic Tangerine, Cornflower, and Laser Lemon.” There is subtle humor as characters are called by the names that describe their personalities, and plenty of reality as characters obsess over food, all kinds of food. (Finally, fictional characters who actually eat.)
The plot is complex and the characters are sketched right at the start. Everyone is nice, but even killers are nice except to their victims. Everyone lies, so things are absolutely not what they appear to be. Events from the past come screaming into the present, and memories bring complications, trauma, and threats. There are unexpected problems on every page, and big secrets explode everywhere.
“And Now She’s Gone” is like driving on a mountain road; you never know what will be around the next corner. Just when you think you have things figured out, here comes another turn and another shocking surprise. I was given a review copy of “And Now She’s Gone” from Rachel Howzell Hall, Forge Books, and Macmillan. The book is like an iceberg, what is seen on top, is just a hint; the big payoff lies well-hidden until…