Title: Two Girls Down
Author : Louisa Luna
Publication Date: 01/09/18
Dates Read: 12/22/17 – 12/28/17
Rating: 4.25 out of 5 stars
“You said every day we make a million little choices, and we should
try to make the right ones as much as we can. And you said rarely in life
do the big choices present themselves, so when they do, we have to take
advantage of the opportunity. We have to do the right thing.”
Jamie Brandt is your average, worn-out mother of multiple children (plus some drugs.. that’s not average, right?). She has two daughters, 10-year-old Kylie and 8-year-old Bailey, and a million things on her to-do list. Jamie makes a quick run inside the mall to pick up a birthday party gift, leaving her girls in the car. When she returns, she experiences every mother’s worst nightmare. Her girls are gone.
With very little evidence to go off of and very few (seemingly) reliable witnesses, this case, like many before it, was destined to go cold.
Enter Alice Vega–Kick ass, won’t-take-no-for-an-answer, tough-as-nails, female bounty hunter. Yeah, she’s that cool. Alice has an impressive track record for finding missing persons and is well known in her field. Jamie Brandt’s mother, with little trust in the police’s efforts, hires Vega to help track down their girls. But the Denville police department is not willing to lift one finger to aid her efforts, much less work collaboratively for the sake of the missing girls…
Enter Max Caplan, a former police officer, better known as “Cap”. He didn’t exactly leave the police force on his best “swan song” and is working as a private investigator, catching cheaters and skips, and seems less than passionate about this line of work. Max is your average Joe… hard working guy, single dad, and an all-around “good guy” (despite what the rumors may lead people to believe. Vega recruits the not-initially-willing Cap to tag team the mission to find the Brandt girls and, oh man, they are one awesome team.
Cap and Vega have to jump through many hoops to find leads and are constantly (but amiably) battling one another along the way. They are the perfect balance of gone-rouge-badass and by-the-book-cop.
When I am reading a crime thriller, especially an uncorrected proof ARC, my ratings are primarily driven by engagement level. Before reading I checked out the author’s other books and tried to gauge what I should expect from this title. To be honest, I wasn’t expecting a lot. I hadn’t seen a lot of ‘chatter’ about this upcoming release and wasn’t familiar with the author or any of her previous books.
But y’all…. I set the bar entirely too low for this novel. It more than exceeded my expectations. I was fully engaged the entire time I read. Had it not been the holidays, I would have easily finished this book in 1-2 days.
The suspense was there for the entire course of the novel–the fear of a parent, the determination of those helping, the mystery behind the case, the thrill of the chase. The ending was fantastic but hard to swallow at times. The conclusion of the case of the Brandt girls shines a light on the raw, nasty, psychopathic tendencies that exist inside of some humans. The desires that no one even wants to speak of.
“As soon as you got closer you saw the damage, the disease, not what
monsters and wolves could do, but what regular men could do to a kid.”
The thing that I loved the most about this title was the author’s ability to create depth in her characters, especially her female characters. I love when an author can bring a character to such life that I feel like, not only that they are a real person, but that I know them. Here’s looking at you Vega! This talent always makes me think about the talent that authors have to shape an entire existence other than their own– an artistic equivalent to acting. Luna’s characters came to life on the page for me and I was eating it up!
And on the note of female characters… if you love reading novels where there is a strong female lead, a totally badass lead.. you need to read this one. Vega is so much fun… she’s snarky, strong, independent, and ruthless and I love it! And Cap’s daughter, Nell, was also a super fun, intelligent, and leader-like character that I enjoyed watching come to life. (They would make a great team… Can we have a sequel please and put that into action?)
All in all.. a great read. A diamond in the rough. A thrill I wasn’t expecting. I hope this novel is the come-back that puts Luna’s name on the map.
*Thank you to the author, publisher, and NetGalley for a digital ARC of this title in exchange for an honest review. Thank you for sharing your novel with reviewers such as myself!
** I saw what you did there Louisa Luna… a neighbor named Bosch? Maybe I’m wrong, but I would love to think that’s a hat-tip to one of the greats of this genre, Mr. Connelly