Review: 'Missing Pieces' by Heather Gudenkauf (2016)
Sarah Quinlan's husband, Jack, has been haunted for decades by the untimely death of his mother when he was just a teenager, her body found in the cellar of their family farm, the circumstances a mystery. The case rocked the small farm town of Penny Gate, Iowa, where Jack was raised, and for years Jack avoided returning home. But when his beloved aunt Julia is in an accident, hospitalized in a coma, Jack and Sarah are forced to confront the past that they have long evaded.
Upon arriving in Penny Gate, Sarah and Jack are welcomed by the family Jack left behind all those years ago—barely a trace of the wounds that had once devastated them all. But as facts about Julia's accident begin to surface, Sarah realizes that nothing about the Quinlans is what it seems. Caught in a flurry of unanswered questions, Sarah dives deep into the puzzling rabbit hole of Jack's past. But the farther in she climbs, the harder it is for her to get out. And soon she is faced with a deadly truth she may not be prepared for.
Normally I don't read a lot of thriller/detective novels, even though I can really enjoy them from time to time. I love the guessing and trying to discover how all the pieces of the puzzle fit together, but I can get a bit depressed by all the death and despair that often also play a role in these kind of books. When I was asked to review Heather Gudenkauf's 'Missing Pieces', which was released earlier this year, the request came at a good time because I was actually looking for a good thriller, something else from the usual chick lit and women's fiction. I wasn't familiar with the author's work, but looked forward to giving it a chance and discover whether I would be able to solve the puzzle at the centre of this novel!
Sarah Quinlan and her husband Jack are on their way to Penny Gate, Iowa, which is Jack's hometown and a place he hasn't visited for years. Jack's aunt Julia, who is also the one who raised Jack and his sister Amy, has been in a serious accident and is now in the hospital. As the facts surrounding Julia's accident slowly come to the surface, Sarah discovers she actually doesn't know anything about her husband's past and his family. Following her instincts as a journalist, she can't help but dig deeper and deeper into the lives of the Quinlan family and it soon turns out Jack has been hiding a lot more than Sarah initially expected...
'Missing Pieces' was my first experience with author Heather Gudenkauf and I have to say she has definitely made a good first impression with this latest work of hers. The story focuses on the Quinlan family and is completely told from the perspective of Sarah Quinlan, who has married into the family. After an accident the whole family comes together in the small town of Penny Gate, where a lot of hidden secrets come to the surface. I have to say I was really intrigued by both the story and its characters from the first chapter and it's been a long time since I read a book I just really didn't want to put down, but that was definitely the case with this one. There seemed to be twists and turns all over the place, urging me on to keep on reading until the case had been solved.
I think a lot of readers will recognise the feeling of reading a book and already knowing/feeling what the story is leading up to, what is eventually going to happen. This is not always a bad thing, but with thrillers it can work as an anti-climax. In this book I think I suspected almost every character at a certain point and I still got it wrong in the end and was really surprised, which is why I also feel that this book deserves the high rating I am giving it. 'Missing Pieces' is exactly what I look for in a thriller; fascinating characters, a storyline that kept me guessing until the very end, good writing, and a lot of tension. I highly recommend this to anyone looking for their next read and I already look forward to checking out more of Heather Gudenkauf's work in the future!