I broke one of my #1 reading rules to try this suspense novel and regretted it … kindasortaNOT. Is this gritty suspense novel for you? Check out my review of Two Girls Down!
Synopsis from Goodreads: When two young sisters disappear from a strip mall parking lot in a small Pennsylvania town, their devastated mother hires an enigmatic bounty hunter, Alice Vega, to help find the girls. Immediately shut out by a local police department already stretched thin by budget cuts and the growing OxyContin and meth epidemic, Vega enlists the help of a disgraced former cop, Max Caplan. Cap is a man trying to put the scandal of his past behind him and move on, but Vega needs his help to find the girls, and she will not be denied. With little to go on, Vega and Cap will go to extraordinary lengths to untangle a dangerous web of lies, false leads, and complex relationships to find the girls before time runs out, and they are gone forever.
My review of Two Girls Down:
Most avid readers have our irresistible elements and tropes (for me: hate to love books, tough-girls-with-a-soft-center characters, coming of age themes, road trip books, and some others I’m sure I’m forgetting.) Then I think most of us also have a mental list of those kinds of stories that we just don’t want to touch.
Books about bad things happening to children and animals are at the top of my No Thanks list.
So. What made me try Two Girls Down when the blurb started out: when two young sisters disappear?? idk … but it was probably the phrase “enigmatic bounty hunter Alice Vega.” I’m a sucker for a tough-girl thriller heroine.
My takeaway: always trust your instincts, in reading and in general.
Yes, the book did involve stuff that made me really uncomfortable. But I also thought that Two Girls Down was a really, really strong book. One of the best in the suspense/mystery/thriller genre that I’ve read in a while. (tbh I read thrillers non-stop in the 90s and only have been getting back into them recently…)
What did I love about Two Girls Down?
–Alice Vega was just as great as promised. She’s like a female Jack Reacher – a no-nonsense former army recruit who now works efficiently and tirelessly to find missing people. She’s a woman of few words and a lot of action.
–Max “Cap” Caplan was just as awesome. Yes, the whole disgraced/disgruntled former cop is a big trope, but I loved Cap, his relationship with his teenage daughter Nell, and the very tentative and quietly sizzling partnership he develops with Alice.
–The writing was really top-notch. Apparently Louise Luna wrote a couple of YA’s back in the 00’s. Nothing on my radar … though I wasn’t blogging back then. But she can really write. I always hope for competent writing in a thriller, but Two Girls Down had some moments that made me close the book for a moment and pause, either because something was so sharply observed or just hit me hard emotionally.
–The plotting was great too. I loved the fact that Two Girls Down did lay out all the clues that I needed to figure things out …. and that I did not figure anything out at all. This one really kept me guessing … and on the edge of my seat.
–When I thought about it, Two Girls Down was a LOT about different types of parent/child relationships. And the fact that once you’re a parent, you pretty much do the best you can and then worry non-stop.
–My hiatus from thrillers got me thinking a lot about what kind of stories and images I want in my head space. Also the fact that I don’t love that a lot of thrillers (and thriller-y movies) can glorify and objectify violence in a way that desensitizes us to its repercussions. I appreciated the fact that while Two Girls Down dealt with some really unpleasant and horrifying subjects, it never shied away from the very real suffering that violence and crime can cause. Two Girls Down was a disturbing book, but also a incredibly empathetic one. Ultimately, that’s what kept me reading.
I definitely recommend this one if you’re a fan of suspenseful thrillers and police procedurals.