Audible version, narrated by Elizabeth Knowelden
So, I debated with myself whether this was 3 or 4 stars and am still not 100% sure. But, it’s summer, it’s nice weather, I’m feeling generous. 😉
The story begins with the disappearance of teenage girl Anna Ballard, as she takes a weekend trip to London with her best friend Sarah. Ella Longfield (The Witness) overhears Anna and Sarah on the train, as they hit it off with two young men who by their own admission have just been released from prison. Ella hears them make plans to meet up at a club, and she becomes worried. She considers calling the girls parents to warn them, but something stops her. The next day she wakes up to see on the news that Anna is missing.
The bulk of the story takes place one year after Anna’s disappearance. She has not yet been found, and her family are busy with an anniversary appeal.
The main problem with this book is that there’s simply too much going on. You have lots of different characters (Ella, Sarah, Anna’s father, a PI… ), all telling their different stories. Sure, they all tie in to the Anna Ballard case in some way, but each character has lots of other stuff going on in their lives too. It’s not hard to keep track, per se, but the main story becomes a bit too diluted.
Another thing that bothered me was that the writer took the “reveal a new twist and then start a new chapter from a different POV before you say what the shocking revelation is” thing to the extreme. Sure, you want to keep the reader’s attention, and these sort of intermediate cliff hangers can be a good way to do that if used sparingly. But at some point it started to have an adverse effect on me and I actually started caring less, as I felt the writing device became too transparent.
Oh, and the repeated line that the father hears Anna saying in his head started to drive me nuts. Again, waaay overused. To begin with I was intrigued, towards the end I was infuriated (this was probably exacerbated by the fact that it was an audiobook – hearing it again and again was likely more invasive than reading it).
So, what did I like??
Despite my ultimately minor grievances, I thought the story was pretty good. And though there is too much going on, I found each story and character interesting, and wanted to know what was going on with them. Though it dragged on a bit with all the jumping to another character when it was getting interesting, it was overall quite exciting. And I enjoyed the twists and red herrings.
The ending was believable, though IMO a little out of left field. I would have liked it if there were more hints towards this ending (there may have been some I completely missed of course).
So, a decent psychological thriller with good characters, but drags a bit and overall not quite as good as I had hoped.