Review: She’s Not There

*Originally published 2016/02/23

244474I have been reading Joy Fielding’s novels since I picked up Kiss Mommy Goodbye. I think I was in my mid-teens when I read this book for the first time. I remember the cover was very 1980s and I think I first picked it up because it was so terrible looking.  I read the synopsis and it drew me – a divorced mother lets her children go away for the weekend with their father but soon realizes she may not see them again.  I remember starting it on a Saturday morning and being sucked in for the rest of the day. I read a few more of her novels but it was in 2002 that I started back up with Fielding’s books.  I was in University at the time and had a day where my courses were 6 hours apart but not worth going back home.  I would study but I needed a break where my mind needed some fun reading.  I remember wandering the stacks of fiction and literature in awe of how many books I had not read…yet. (More about my University library wanderings in another post.)

I came upon an author I had not read in awhile…Joy Fielding.  The books the library had did not have jacket covers for hardcovers.  Often I picked a book based on title.  I can’t remember what book I started with but after finishing it I started to read everything written by Fielding I could get my hands on.  I reread the ones I first read in my teens as I could not remember the details.  Each book I read left an impression on me as Fielding is great with psychological suspense.  Whispers and Lies is my favourite to date as it left me speechless for a few days.  Then I got to The Wild Zone and I could not finish the novel without major skimming.  I was left bewildered to the point I did not pick up another Fielding book for 5 years (2 books in between).  I was afraid I had overdosed on Fielding and now my tolerance was not the same.  Last year I took a deep breath and tried Fielding’s new book, Someone is Watching and I enjoyed it but still lacked a little suspense for me.  This year when I saw there was a new Fielding book I knew I had to try again…

she's not thereSHE’S NOT THERE Written by Joy Fielding

2016; 368 Pages (Ballantine Books)

Genre: mystery, suspense, psychological

Rating: ★

(I received an ARC from the NETGALLEY)

 Caroline Shipley’s husband, Hunter surprises her with an anniversary trip to Mexico with their two daughters, her brother and his wife, her best friend and her husband plus Hunter’s business friend and his wife.  When their babysitter does not show up Hunter talks Caroline into going to dinner anyway with them checking on their daughters every 30 minutes.  As they have dinner in the hotel restaurant they take turns checking on the girls and when they head up for the night they relaize their baby daughter, Samantha is missing.

Fifteen years later…Caroline has suffered not just by losing her daughter and not knowing if she is even alive, but by having reporters hound her every year over the kidnapping.  She has lost her husband, she can’t seem to get through to her other daughter, she cannot trust people or make new friends.  As she gears up for another year of reliving Samantha’s disappearance she receives a phone call from a young girl who thinks she may be Samantha and leads Caroline to more questions.  As everyone else tells her its a hoax she cannot help but explore the possibility her daughter is back even if it ruins her world further.

Wow, this book had me from the start and the emotional kick this novel has is intense.  I have to admit this was a book I stayed up till 1am reading.  I had to know if Lily was Samantha and what happened to Samantha either way.  I am not a mother but I have nieces and nephews and my bestie is pregnant with a girl so the premise of this story is definitely one of my worst nightmares.  And, having been lost a few times I understand that feeling of blind panic.  Not that you need any experience as Fielding delivers on emotional and psychological aspect of this suspense thriller.  She’s Not There reminds me of a vintage Fielding novel and I am excited again…and the two books I missed in those 5 years are getting read this year, count on.

I think in the coming month I may do some reviews of Joy Fielding’s books as I would recommend her novels to any mystery fan. And, she’s Canadian (who also lives in Florida!) If you have read all of Joy Fielding’s novels please try Mary Higgins Clark, Wendy Corsi Staub, Harlan Coben‘s standalone novels, Linwood Barclay‘s standalone novels and Carleen Thompson.



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