Where They Found Her is Kimberly McCreight’s sophomore novel; I must have read her first, Reconstructing Amelia, during one of my blogging hiatuses because I never got around to reviewing it, which I’m still annoyed at myself for because it was really good. Where They Found Her was just as good, but with a much different feel.
Molly Sanderson has recently moved to the idyllic Ridgeway, New Jersey, after her husband landed a professorship at the local university. Still reeling from a recent stillbirth, she finds it difficult to care for herself, let alone for her husband or for her daughter, Ella. Working for the local paper, she finds herself the lead reporter on the most disturbing story that Ridgeway has seen in years: the discovery of the body of a newborn by a creek near the university.
Though she’s sickened more than most at the prospect of reporting on the case, Molly perseveres, determined that getting through this case will help her finally gain closure over the loss of her second daughter. But what she uncovers is more than a simple murder case; she’s soon led down twisting paths that go back decades through the town’s history, and discovers that the fate of the baby girl is more entwined with her life—and the lives of several other local women—than she could have imagined.
Where They Found Her is one of those stories where, just when you think you’ve got everything figured out, you hit another bump in the road, another hairpin turn, and you find yourself amazed at where you end up. Ms. McCreight’s way of weaving the tales of the Ridgeway women together into something bigger than the baby’s death is amazing. For the most part, it was relatively easy to pick out the foreshadowing, but there were a few points where I was like, “Wait. WHAT?!” and had to go back and read the preceding line or paragraph again. It was well-paced with good tension throughout, with a lot of that mostly-indefinable “unputdownableness” quotient that I so crave in the books I read.
My one real beef with Where They Found Her, which is hardly a beef at all but something small that really pulled me out of the story, is Ms. McCreight’s apparently enormous amount of faith in the general intelligence, coherence, and good will of internet commenters. Anyone who’s read through the comments on a news article knows that the vast majority of commenters (particularly on local papers like the one Molly works for) can’t put two words together without misplacing an apostrophe, and yet the comments on Molly’s articles are generally well punctuated and don’t contain nearly the amount of vitriol I’ve come to expect from such a medium. Of course, this is a fictional world, but I can’t imagine even a fictional world in which internet commenters aren’t the dregs of humanity.
It’s kind of funny, actually, because I had almost the opposite beef with Reconstructing Amelia, in which some of Amelia’s text message transcripts are shared with the reader. Now, Amelia was described as an intelligent, self-aware teenager, but her texts were almost entirely txt spk, which just doesn’t seem realistic to me in this age of smartphones (and, if not smart phones, at least T9). I wouldn’t necessarily expect her texting transcripts to contain 100% correct capitalization and punctuation or anything, but I definitely wouldn’t expect a smart girl that age to use txt spk so fluently.
In any case, Where They Found Her is a great read, and one you should definitely pick up if you like murder mysteries with a twist—or three.by