She’s Not There

                                by Joy Fielding

Many years ago I read See Jane Run and The Deep End and really liked them, so I’m not sure why I didn’t continue reading Joy Fielding’s books. When I was given the opportunity by NetGalley to read an ARC of  She’s Not There for an honest review, I took advantage of it. I’m glad that I did!

Caroline and Hunter Shipley seem to have a perfect life with their two beautiful little girls, a seemingly wonderful marriage, and an affluent lifestyle. Caroline is determined that she won’t raise her children as her mother raised her and her brother, Steve.  Although Steve is a charmer, he is also  a drinker, a gambler and an underachiever. Her mother always favors him over the more responsible, Caroline. However, Caroline is finding it difficult to not favor her own children because her sweet little toddler, Samantha, is a joy while her older daughter, Michelle is difficult and demanding.

Hunter takes the family to Mexico to celebrate their wedding anniversary. Caroline is excited to spend time with her husband only to find that he has invited her brother, his wife, and two other couples to join them. On the last night, the babysitter at the hotel doesn’t show up. Hunter insists that they should still go to dinner with their friends because he has a big surprise for her. Caroline doesn’t want to leave the girls alone but Hunter says that they will check on them every half hour and will be eating right below their window, so everything will be fine.

When they finally return to their room, they find that Samantha has been taken. The authorities are called but they can’t find her. This story is reminiscent of the case that was in the news a few years ago about a couple whose child was stolen, when she was left alone. while the couple was eating.

The book moves back and forth between the present and fifteen years before when Samantha disappeared. In the years after the abduction, Caroline’s marriage falls apart, she has trouble keeping a teaching job because of the notoriety of the case and Michelle becomes even more difficult.

Every year, on the anniversary of her disappearance, the press dredges up the story and the crazies seem to come out of the woodwork.  They either claim to have seen Samantha, or worse, claim to be her. But this time, one of the callers seems to be the real thing and Caroline makes arrangements to meet her. Is she Samantha or just another imposer?

I don’t like reviews that reveal too much about the book, so all I am going to say is that if you like  engaging mysteries with surprises, you will like She’s Not There.


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