Title: Nowhere Girl by Susan Strecker
Publisher: Thomas Dunne Books
Genre: Contemporary, Mystery, Suspense
Length: 304 pages
Book Rating: B+
Complimentary Review Copy Provided by Publisher Through NetGalley
In Susan Strecker’s Nowhere Girl, sixteen-year-old Savannah Martino is strangled to death in an abandoned house. The police rule Savannah’s murder a random attack of opportunity, which prompts the small New Jersey town to instigate a curfew and cancel football games. Isolated and afraid, Savannah’s sister, Cady, continues to communicate with Savannah through dreams. Cady knows Savannah in ways no one else knew: The beautiful, ethereal twin everyone thought was an angel was actually on the road to self-destruction.
Years later a chance encounter while researching her latest novel coincides with an unexpected call from the once-rookie cop on Savannah’s case, Patrick Tunney, now a detective, who tells Cady that Savannah’s case has been reopened. Through new evidence, it has been determined that Savannah’s death wasn’t a random attack and that whoever killed her sister loved her.
Despite years of interviewing convicted killers, profilers, and psychiatrists for her bestselling thrillers, Cady isn’t prepared for the revelation that someone close to her could have killed her sister. Cady is drawn into a labyrinth of deception and betrayal reaching all the way back to her childhood that will force her to find the strength she never knew she had in order to face the truth.
Nowhere Girl by Susan Strecker is a riveting mystery about the unsolved murder of bestselling novelist Cady Bernard’s twin sister, Savannah.
Sixteen years after Savannah’s murder, Cady has been unable to move past her grief, pain or guilt. Having channeled some of her emotions into a successful career as a mystery writer, she is researching her fifth novel when a series of dreams leads her to the New Jersey Penitentiary where she hopes to find information for her book and hopefully, her sister’s killer. A chance encounter with her teenage crush and former classmate Brady Irons, now a corrections officer at the prison, provides her with the connection she needs for gaining access to notorious serial killer Larry Cauchek. When local police detective Patrick Tunney contacts Cady to tell her Savannah’s case is being re-opened, she uncovers new information about her sister that she hopes will finally lead to the arrest of her killer.
Despite being identical twins, Cady and Savannah were complete opposites. Cady was (and still is) a good girl who walks the straight and narrow whereas Savannah lived life on the edge. Cady is still rather quiet, unassuming and self-conscious of her weight and despite her success as an author, she lacks self-esteem. Married to a psychologist, her marriage is suffering from a lack of communication, infertility and her husband’s extravagant spending habits. Fortunately she has a core group of friends and family to support her, but the deeper she looks into Savannah’s murder, the more suspicious Cady becomes of those closest to her.
Cady still looks at Brady with stars in her eyes and her crush on him has not waned in the intervening years since she last saw him. She is a little tongue-tied and awestruck at their first few meetings but once she focuses on her professional questions, she becomes more comfortable with him. While Brady has no problem discussing his career as a Corrections Officer and the inner workings of the prison system, he is less than forthcoming about his personal life. With her marriage on rocky ground, Cady grows closer to Brady, but is there more to their relationship than just friendship?
The reopened investigation is a bit of a slow burner since Patrick has other cases to work on in addition to Savannah’s murder. Cady is more than willing to help dig around in her sister’s past but she is sometimes reluctant to reveal what she uncovers. On the other hand, Patrick is scrupulously honest about how badly the original investigation was handled and he is completely forthcoming with his theories about what might have happened to Savannah.
Part whodunit and part character study, Nowhere Girl is an engrossing police procedural that fans of the genre do not want to miss. The plot is well-developed and the characters are engaging and multi-faceted. While some fairly heavy foreshadowing early in the story makes it rather easy to predict the truth about Savannah’s death, Susan Strecker still manages to bring the investigation to a rather surprising conclusion. All in all, a very clever mystery with a unique plot and a gutsy, likable heroine I greatly enjoyed and highly recommend.