Anna Hart is a seasoned missing persons detective in San Francisco with far too much knowledge of the darkest side of human nature. When tragedy strikes her personal life, Anna, desperate and numb, flees to the Northern California village of Mendocino to grieve. She lived there as a child with her beloved foster parents, and now she believes it might be the only place left for her. Yet the day she arrives, she learns that a local teenage girl has gone missing.
The crime feels frighteningly reminiscent of the most crucial time in Anna’s childhood, when the unsolved murder of a young girl touched Mendocino and changed the community forever. As past and present collide, Anna realizes that she has been led to this moment. The most difficult lessons of her life have given her insight into how victims come into contact with violent predators. As Anna becomes obsessed with saving the missing girl, she must accept that true courage means getting out of her own way and learning to let others in.
Weaving together actual cases of missing persons, trauma theory, and a hint of the metaphysical, this propulsive and deeply affecting novel tells a story of fate, necessary redemption, and what it takes, when the worst happens, to reclaim our lives—and our faith in one another.
Goodreads’ Rating: ☀☀☀☀☀
When the Stars Go Dark by Paula McLain is a dramatic tale of grief, loss, resilience, and the scars life leaves behind.
What I Loved
I loved the descriptive language found throughout the story. There were times when this mystery felt very atmospheric, and the descriptions used helped create the feeling of dark and wild foreboding. The child abduction mystery is intense, and the descriptive language used ratcheted it up a notch, making it very hard to stop reding long after I needed to do so.
Anna is a great character whose development is so intricately detailed that it is hard to believe that she isn’t a real person. And the same goes for the support characters who grabbed my attention immediately and made me feel their stories. Anna’s personal mystery is just as suspenseful and compelling – if not more so – than the child abduction cases she is helping with. And that is saying a lot because, as a mom, very little is more horrifying to read about than a missing child. It hits at the very heart of any parent.
When the Stars Go Dark has all the twists, turns, and jaw-dropping moments I hope to see in a mystery. It also has the time element because, as we know, the sooner kids are found, the more likely they will be found alive. So inside, I felt the urgency to go faster and faster, which translated into the pages turning faster and faster.
I also loved the setting. The story is set in the ’90s during a real child abduction case that is part of this story – Polly Klaas. That case and new technology changed how law enforcement handles these kinds of issues permanently. In the early 90s, very few people had cell phones, and they are nothing like today. The internet was young, and society was beginning to figure out how people could use it. To find a way to use the internet to get pictures and information out was a game-changer that enabled kidnapped children to be found more often before something terrible happened.
To Read or Not to Read
If you want to be blown away by a story you can’t put down, then don’t delay in picking this book up.