Friday, June 2, 2017

Review of "The Good Girl" by Mary Kubica




Mia Dennett - an inner-city art teacher who grew up in a wealthy, prominent Chicago family - is abducted by Colin Thatcher, a low-level thug who collects debts and does odd jobs for his criminal employer. Instructed to kidnap Mia and hand her over, Colin snatches the girl. He then has a change of heart and takes Mia to a primitive cabin in the Minnesota woods where he holds her for months. The living conditions are horrific: it's freezing; bathing and clothes-washing are minimal, so their bodies reek; there's little food; there's nothing to do; and Mia is terrorized by her abductor. Colin, meanwhile, knows that if they're found - by either the cops or his employer - his life is essentially (or literally) over.

The book is told from rotating points of view: Gabe - the detective assigned to the case; Colin - the kidnapper; Eve - Mia's mother; and Mia - the abductee. It also alternates between two time periods: before Mia is rescued and after Mia is rescued. This type of thing could get confusing but the author handles it skillfully and it's easy to follow the story. The book has an interesting premise and kept my attention (to a point) because I wanted to find out the circumstances of Mia's rescue. That said, however, the book moves excruciatingly slowly.

As the book proceeds the characters talk a lot about their backgrounds, and they all have a sad story. Eve's husband (Mia's father), a judge, was distant and controlling, concerned only with his career and public image. Mia was a neglected child who could never please her father. Colin grew up poor but had a loving mother; when she got seriously ill his life fell apart. Gabe's a lonely guy without a family. And so on. The characters also provide detailed descriptions of their hour to hour activities and interact in a variety of ways, some of which are frankly not believable. I kept hoping the action would perk up and the plot would get more interesting, but it never did.

It'a hard to drum up much sympathy for any of these characters. I did like Gabe, a talented, caring detective who was determined to find Mia and bring the perpetrators to justice. Many readers probably won't be surprised by the book's ending which is telegraphed at several points in the story. I thought the book was just okay. For me it doesn't live up to the hype which seems to surround it.

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