Author: Louisa Luna
Released: January 8th 2018
Warning: Kidnapping, rape
If you’re been following the hot new release lists lately (or are a Book of the Month member), then you’ve probably seen or heard about Two Girls Down. The catching cover increases the odds of it being noticed too, which helps. Regardless, it’s safe to say that Louisa Luna’s fourth novel is getting a lot of ink (forgive the pun, I couldn’t resist).
Two Girls Down is about two girls that have gone missing (as the title implies) and the efforts two Private Investigators go through in their attempts to find them and bring them back home. Alice Vega is a PI who’s famous for finding lost children, while Max Caplan is a disgraced ex-cop. They’re not the typical perspective one would expect for a suspense novel about missing kids, but they do help make the book stand out amongst the rest.
Warnings first: The first part of this warning isn’t a spoiler, but the second part is. So don’t read this unless you want a (somewhat major?) spoiler. Two sisters are kidnapped and held hostage for over a week during the course of this novel. One of them is mostly unharmed (unless we’re counting mental trauma, which I’m sure she has), but the older one does get sexually assaulted. It isn’t explicit, but they don’t deny the fact, nor do they hide from it.
I just want to say that Two Girls Down has so much potential, it almost hurts. A different twist on the suspense plot (check), two young girls missing (check), a strong female lead (check), a compassionate male partner (check), intrigue (check), everything I would really want in a suspense novel. While I was immediately drawn in at first, I found myself becoming less impressed and enchanted as time went on. By the time the conclusion came along I was ready for the book to be over. Which is such a shame, really.
The setup and characters were by far the strongest parts of this book, with the manner of the girls being abducted being believable and painfully low on evidence (a parent’s nightmare, when you think about it). Likewise the introduction of both Vega and Caplan were spot on; both were established in their own careers right off the bat, as were their base personalities. I would have liked some more character development for both of them, but what was there wasn’t too bad on the whole (though Vega’s character seemed somewhat schizophrenic at times).
Despite the oddness (at times) of Vega’s character, I still found myself charmed by her. Which is saying something. I don’t know everything that happened in her past, but I do know that Vega is absolutely driven to find missing children, and to do so in the most efficient manner. In a way her character reminds me a lot of the main character in the TV show the Finder (where he had to solve the case or risk losing himself trying).
Where Vega is the will and driving force of this story, I feel like Caplan is the heart. He’s the compassionate partner who has a daughter he adores and would do anything to take care of. It’s clear what drives him to help find these missing girls (sympathy for the parents and genuine concern for the girls’ welfare).
As for the plot itself. Well, like I said it had a lot of potential. Along with everything else I’ve mentioned, I really enjoyed the conflict created between Vega/Caplan and the unhelpful police. It created additional tension and did a lot towards explaining why the girls hadn’t been found yet. The inclusion of competent and caring police officers did a good job of balancing things out, while also showing that not all police officers are like this.
Despite this, there were a lot of holes, many of which became more apparent as time goes on. Vega’s behavior, the abduction, some of the suspects, how it all connects. It became bloated and overcomplicated, and things fell between the cracks. I was left feeling like the conclusion was sudden and unsatisfactory, and to be honest it really didn’t even feel like the right ending, in a way. I can see what she was going for – the antagonist had already been established as a jerk before this, but there’s a big difference between being a pushy and overconfident person and being capable of doing what was done. I just don’t see how the dots were connected.
The more I think about this book, and the more I find myself thinking about all of the lost potential. I think that’s what really gets me. I debated rating this a three and a half star, but that would result with me rounding up on amazon and goodreads, and I realized I wasn’t ok with that. So it’s going to stay at three stars, even though I feel like maybe I’m being a bit harsh due to my disappointment.