Friday, May 20, 2011

Chilling Lost Girls Another Creepy Mystery from Jennifer McMahon

(Image from Indiebound)

If creepy books disturb you, may I suggest giving anything written by Jennifer McMahon a wide berth? And by wide, I mean don't even look at the covers (they're disquieting, anyway), don't read the plot descriptions on the jacket flaps, and definitely don't skim the first pages. If you do, you'll be stuck. Then, you'll hate yourself for reading something so ... creepy. I'm not talking creepy in the familiar vampire/zombie/demon/werewolf way either, I'm talking about the worst kind of creepy - the kind humans perpetrate every day.

Consider yourself warned.

Island of Lost Girls begins with recent college graduate Rhonda Farr, who stops at the local gas station to fill up before heading to Burlington, Vermont, for a job interview. She's got so much on her mind - the job she doesn't really want, but needs for her resume; Peter, the man she wants, but can't have; the constant-ness of life in small-town Pike's Crossing; Peter, Peter, Peter - that she doesn't realize she's witnessing the kidnapping of a small child until it's too late. When Rhonda describes the kidnapper to the police, they seem a little skeptical. A 6-foot tall white rabbit snatching little Ernestine Florucci? At the gas station? In plain sight? But Rhonda knows what she saw. She also knows, with terrifying certainty, that she's seen the rabbit costume before. Thirteen years before, to be exact, right before her childhood friend, Lizzy, disappeared. Never to be seen again.

Rhonda's so shaken up by the whole experience that she can barely function. While she gives statements to the police and helps look for the missing girl (even though the child's mother accuses her of being involved in the crime), Rhonda searches for clues that will lead to Ernie's rescue. She refuses to believe what others in town are saying - that Peter is involved - but the more evidence she finds, the worse things are looking for her old friend. And if Peter's capable of hurting little Ernie Florucci, could he have done something to Lizzy all those years ago? Torn between her feelings for Peter and her desperate need to know the truth, Rhonda will solve the mystery of the lost girls, even if it means losing the man she loves forever.

Books about missing children don't tend toward the warm and fuzzy. Island of Lost Girls is no exception. It's a chilling story about stolen innocence, hidden guilt, and belated redemption. McMahon writes with a deft hand, bringing small-town Vermont into sharp focus, making even repugnant characters interesting. The plot could use some originality, however, since few of its twists and turns surprised me. Not that a little predictability stopped me from flying through the novel. It didn't. In the end, though, it left me a little disappointed with the overall story. If I'm going to take a creepy ride, I want it to be worth it. Know what I mean? So, while Island of Lost Girls kept my attention, it didn't quite satisfy. Will that stop me from reading more McMahon? Probably not. Unfortunately.

(Readalikes: Reminded me a little of Tomorrow River and Whistling in the Dark, both by Lesley Kagen)

Grade: B-

If this were a movie, it would be rated: R for strong language, violence and sexual content

To the FTC, with love: I received a finished copy of Island of Lost Girls from the generous folks at Harper Collins and TLC Book Tours, for whom this review was written.

9 comments:

  1. I recently read Jennifer McMahon's new book, DON'T BREATHE A WORD, and her first one, PROMISE NOT TO TELL. And...those covers are haunting to me. I've got the other two on my shelves, one of them being this one. I'll wait a bit to read them, but this is an author that I will be putting on my must-get list.

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  2. I just bought this one to read. I loved Don't Breathe a Word. Creepy is definitely a good description for that story. I can't wait to get into this one.

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  3. This one sound to creepy-good to resist.

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  4. This is the second review I've seen of this book this week and now it's on my TBR list!

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  5. This is a new author for me that I will definitely check out. This ones sounds really good! Adding it to my TBR list.

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  6. Ha! I love the warning at the beginning of this post. :)

    I'm glad you'll stick with McMahon's books in the future - she's got a new one that just came out, you know!

    Thanks for being on the tour.

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  7. Ooh, this looks great. I've never read any of her books before, but I've added this to my wishlist.

    Although I typed it into Amazon and it came up with a Tinkerbell DS game... How odd.

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  8. I have been meaning to read a book by Jennifer McMahon. Looking forward to it. Have 4 on my TBR list currently.
    Thanks so much for stopping by my blog via the book blogger hop! I am very happy to have discovered your blog and I think you will continue to add to my TBR list!
    Thanks and nice meeting you!

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  9. I really loved your book review! You totally sold this book to me and the read-alikes and if this-were-a-movie rating were uber creative :)

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