The Night She Went Missing by Kristen Bird Review

I received a free copy of this book in exchange for a fair and honest review. All opinions are my own.

Three mothers and friends-turned-frenemies must work together to solve what happened to a local high school girl after she is found unconscious months after her disappearance after the police are unable to move forward in the investigation in author Kristen Bird’s domestic thriller, “The Night She Went Missing”.

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The Synopsis

Months after she disappeared, a high school senior is found floating in the town’s harbor, alive but unconscious. Where has Emily been, and how did she get into the water? In Kristen Bird’s “gripping” (Publishers Weekly) debut The Night She Went Missing, three friends-to-frenemies mothers in a close-knit, wealthy Texas community decide to investigate after the police hit a dead end. While each woman has secrets to protect, they’ll all be forced to look at their own children – or each other’s – to uncover the truth.

With the relentless pacing and complex female characters of Big Little Lies and an expertly crafted small town setting, The Night She Went Missing introduces Kristen Bird as a new force in the world of domestic suspense. Her novel goes well beyond that, exploring complex questions about mothers and daughters, loss, and the line between taking chances and living dangerously.

The Review

What an adrenaline-fueled thriller! The pulse-pounding narrative really infuses a sense of mystery and suspense into the character arcs and dialogue as each chapter peels back the layers of the story and the character’s pasts as well. The author found amazing notes of dread and spine-chilling terror as the actions of the mothers, their children, and their community begin to unfold. 

What really stood out to me was the character arc. A great way of differentiating a domestic suspense thriller from your average murder mystery type of thriller is the intimate community setting and character development that can be found within. The author really captured that voice and tone in the novel, and these protagonists were crucial to that vibe, as these mothers balanced the struggles of parenting and their own identities with the actions of their children and other members of the community. 

The Verdict

A striking, engaging, and haunting read, author Kristen Bird’s debut novel “The Night She Went Missing” is a must-read domestic suspense thriller and a brilliant first novel in the author’s career. With a shocking series of twists and turns, the narrative will keep readers invested in diving down the rabbit hole that is this small-town mystery and the final revelation will have readers spinning as one of the protagonists has their world turned upside down. If you haven’t yet, be sure to grab your copy today!

Rating: 10/10

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About the Author

Kristen Bird lives outside of Houston, Texas with her husband and three daughters. She earned her bachelor’s degree in music and mass media before completing a master’s in literature. She teaches high school English and writes with a cup of coffee in hand. In her free time, she likes to visit parks with her three daughters, watch quirky films with her husband and attempt to keep pace with her rescue lab-mixes. THE NIGHT SHE WENT MISSING is her debut novel.

Buy Links: 

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Murder by the Book (Houston, TX)

Social Links:

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Twitter: @kbirdwrites 

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Here is an Excerpt from Kristen Bird’s The Night She Went Missing

EMILY

They find me faceup in the murky water of the harbor on the day of my funeral. Or memorial service. Whatever. It’s not like there’s much difference. Dead is dead.

Except I’m not. I. Am. Not. Dead. I would pinch myself if I could move.

“Can you hear me? Hey, what’s your name? Can you open your eyes?”

My eyes are as dense and heavy as basalt. Basalt: rich in iron and magnesium, Mr. Schwartz penned on the board during our volcanic rock unit in eighth grade. I fight to come out of the emptiness that has held me for the past…the past what? Hours? Days? Weeks?

I attempt to whisper my name even though my eyelids remain anchored. Emily. That’s right. Emily. I can’t remember the last time I voiced those three syllables.

“Pull her up.” 

Hands yank at me, jerking me from the arms of the water. Two hands wander up my body—over my feet, my legs, the arch of my hips, my arms, onto my neck, stopping at my forehead. This touch is not like the familiar plying of the boy I love, so fiery that it almost stings. This touch is necessary, cold, perfunctory. Perfunctory, Mrs. Abbot, my sophomore English teacher had pronounced for us students as we learned the word for the first time. P-E-R-F-U— 

The voice cuts in. “Tell them we have a girl, a teenager. No broken bones as far as I can tell but looks like she’s been out here for hours. Unconscious, but breathing on her own.” His voice muff les as he turns his head. “I think she might be Emily.” 

Suddenly, a brilliant choir of tenors and baritones and basses burst forth. “The Emily?” 

Emily. Yes, that’s me. What a comforting thing to hear one’s name spoken by those who can point the way home. I breathe in gratitude and descend into the lightness of sleep before a hand touches my cheek again. 

“You awake, Emily?” 

The swooshing of the waves calls to me, a reminder that the song of the deep is steady despite all the new sounds: The bustle of work boots, the hum of the boat waiting to churn to life and set out across the open sea. 

“Your mama’s been looking for you, Ms. Emily. You gave us all a fright. You hear me?” The man seems to sense that I can hear his words while my body remains frozen despite the warmth of the water and the sun overhead. “You’re gonna be okay, sweetheart. Yes, ma’am, you’re gonna make it just fine. Got a daughter about your age, and I woulda been worried sick if my girl had gone missing for weeks on end. Your mama sure is gonna be happy.”

A nasally voice now. “Where you think she’s been all this time? Turned into a mermaid?” The boy chuckles. 

“Hush, Beau.” 

The man’s hand touches my forehead, his fingers sandpapery with callouses. “Now, sweetheart, if you can open your eyes for a sec, I can introduce you properly to the crew. We’re getting you help as fast as we can, but you can go ahead and open them eyes before all the medics arrive. They’d be good and relieved to see you looking around.” 

I try. Oh, how I want to f licker them open, but my head aches and oblivion pulls harder. The siren call of the void is too tempting to resist.

Excerpted from The Night She Went Missing by Kristen Bird, Copyright © 2022 by Kristen Bird. Published by arrangement with Harlequin Books S.A.

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