When The Stars Go Dark
reviewed by Linda McCutcheon
“It makes me hurt for her, this girl I’ve never met but know. She survived violence, betrayal, and terror, the theft of her soul. She survived the smoking, buried shame and the silence, and years of forced amnesia. But can she survive what’s happening now, inside and out? Can she survive the remembering?”
When The Stars Go Dark by Paula Mclain uses these words to convey so precisely how much Detective Anna Hart is effected by the victims in her missing children cases. How each case is a dagger in her heart and a trigger for her own tragic childhood.
Anna is an expert in finding missing children, more accurately, stolen children. It is a job that consumes her whole being until it causes a devastating tragedy that has her husband asking for time apart and her boss putting her on a forced vacation.
She finds herself lost and goes back to the last place she felt safe. Arriving in the small town where her foster parents were the first people to earn her love and trust she is immediately caught up in the disappearance of a young teen girl.
As she and her childhood friend Will, who is now the town sheriff, try to find the girl they both realize they are reminded when their friend disappeared in high school and was found dead a month later. They never knew who killed her, but her death has haunted both of them and is the reason they are in law enforcement.
Paula McLain knows how to write not just a thrilling mystery but fully developed characters that are realistic, empathetic, and tragic. She also effortlessly included real life missing children, most notably Polly Klaas who was taken in the middle of the night from her home. It was because of Polly we now have a national database about missing children and known predators.
In When The Stars Go Dark, McLain deftly shows us how family secrets, hidden agendas, money, or lack of money, public outrage, and non-communication among branches of the law all influence the outcome of missing children cases. The reveal is heart-pounding and the ultimate conclusion nail biting. I could not stop reading this book, but more impressive: I could not stop thinking about it when I was not reading it.
I received a free copy of this book from the publisher via NetGalley for a fair and honest review. All opinions are my own.