Looking For The Next Gone Girl? All The Missing Girls Is Heir Apparent

Image: Simon & Schuster.
One of the legacies of Gone Girl is that the literary world now feels compelled to crown a new book to take up its mantle in must-read lists year after year. In 2015, the title went to The Girl on the Train, followed by runner-up Luckiest Girl Alive. We're not far enough through this year to make a final pronouncement, but we can at least add a new title from veteran author Megan Miranda to the mix of contenders: All the Missing Girls, on shelves June 28.

The novel begins by introducing the reader to Nicolette "Nic" Farrell, a young woman who has escaped her past and the Podunk town where she grew up, only to get yanked back into the web when her family home needs to be put on the market and she's the only who can ready it for sale.

Nic hits pause on her life with her almost too-good-to-be-true fiancé and heads back to Cooley Ridge to do her daughterly diligence. But cleaning out the closets entails unearthing some skeletons, and Nic gets wrapped up in a decade-old cold case: the disappearance of her best friend, Corinne, who vanished one night after a county fair and has never been heard from since.

Corinne might be haunting Nic's memory (and for all we know at the outset, the woods behind her house as well), but not long after Nic's homecoming, a second girl goes missing. Annaleise Carter was several years younger than Nic and her friends growing up; these days, she's dating Nic's former high school flame, Tyler. But just days into Nic's arrival, Annaleise evaporates into thin air, and town residents are understandably convinced that the two disappearances are connected, down to the roster of suspects, motives, and clues left behind.

Both Flynn and Hawkins' novels have this in common: They reveal something truly terrifying about the potential for darkness lurking in seemingly ordinary people.

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As the story unfurls, starting the day that Nic arrives in town and winding its way two weeks later to the present, it becomes clear that our protagonist knows more about what happened to Corinne than she has any innocent reason to — and that she might be hiding information that could lead to the discovery of her old friend. It also becomes obvious that things between Nic and Tyler are far from finished: Despite the fact that she's rocking a gigantic engagement ring from Everett, her husband-to-be, the sparks between her and Tyler are undeniable. The truth is, a dark, 10-year-old secret has bound them together forever.

While it's not especially groundbreaking in the genre of psychological thrillers, All the Missing Girls is a book that you can't help but whip through, and Miranda is a master of leaving just enough tantalizing clues to keep you from pausing between chapters. Particularly as you get toward the end and realize the role that Nic and her brother may have played in the disappearances of both young women — and how sometimes accidents and malevolent intent collide — it becomes increasingly difficult to tear your eyes from the page.

All the Missing Girls does lack something that pushed books like Gone Girl and The Girl on the Train into truly thrilling territory, though: While Miranda succeeds in spinning an inventive, eerie tale, what she does not manage to do is ever truly raise the hair on the back of readers' necks. Both Flynn and Hawkins' novels have this in common: They reveal something terrifying about the potential for darkness lurking in seemingly ordinary people, suggesting that even the most benign among us could have a chilling secret. Miranda never quite gets there with All the Missing Girls, but it's still a treat to follow her on the way.

All the Missing Girls by Megan Miranda is out from Simon & Schuster on June 28.
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