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Julie Doe

Had such potential and then...

The Missing Place - Sophie Littlefield

This book has such potential, and I am sad that it didn’t live up to it. The beginning of the book is great. Colleen Mitchell flies to remote Lawton, ND, to search for her missing son, Paul, who has been working for one of the oil companies in the area, Hunter-Cole Energy. She immediately hooks up with Shay Capparelli, the mother of Taylor, Paul’s best friend, who is also missing. The two women start investigating the disappearance, taking on the local police, the oil workers and higher-ups, and even the folks on the nearby Indian reservation.

This part of the book is great. The writing is evocative. You really get a sense of the place, the people, and can appreciate the two women’s franticness to find their sons. The relationship between the women is complicated but interesting to watch develop. I loved this part of the book and the story.

Then, at about 70% of the way into the book, the fate of the two young men is discovered. And the book takes a hard left turn into WTF territory. Not WTF as in an implausible plot, actions, resolution, etc, but WTF as in “what the heck happened to the gritty mystery I was reading and why am I suddenly in a dull family drama?” All of the interesting elements of the problems surrounding Hunter-Cole, local tensions with the Native Americans, etc., are simply jettisoned, and the final 30% of the book meanders around (mostly) Colleen’s life in Boston in the aftermath, and the two women coming to terms with what happened. If felt like a huge bait-and-switch.

The first 70% of the book gets a hearty five stars. However, because of the side tracked, meandering ending, the final overall rating is 3-stars.