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And Now She's Gone


And Now She's Gone

People who aren't who they appear to be populate the pages of Rachel Howzell Hall's new suspense novel, AND NOW SHE’S GONE. While the story is ostensibly about private investigator Grayson Sykes' first case involving a missing woman named Isabel Lincoln, it's also very much about the reader finding out who she really is and how she and Isabel may --- or may not --- have much in common.

The book takes place in Los Angeles with a few side trips to Las Vegas and Alabama. It's obvious that Hall knows L.A. well; from the restaurants to the streets, we feel like we are driving in rush hour traffic along with Gray. Although the story is told in the third person, it's definitely from Gray's point of view, and it's a more chatty narrative than your average detective novel.

"Rachel Howzell Hall provides a solid plot and a main character who, if a bit unlikable at first, grows on us after a while."

Hall uses her writing skills to gradually share information through the judicious use of flashbacks. (Beware of one flashback that confuses because a typo indicates that it's from 16 years ago instead of six, and that throws the whole timeline into question. This will be fixed in subsequent editions.) We learn about Gray's backstory in bits and pieces, and that's also how we find out about Isabel’s story. Hall graphically describes the effects of physical and emotional abuse throughout the novel, and we get a glimpse into why some women feel compelled to stay in bad situations.

What detracts from the plot are the wordy metaphors and occasional awkward language. "Gray now stared at that bed --- so comfortable that she had sweated while sleeping" and (while on a beach) "They took so many walks, they made new sand" are just a couple of the sentences I read two or three times trying to make sense of them. Much is made about electricity and thunderstorms and "phosphorescent sky crackles" and "the click-clicking of electricity." There are also numerous side characters to keep track of, and some have confusingly similar names.

All in all, Rachel Howzell Hall provides a solid plot and a main character who, if a bit unlikable at first, grows on us after a while. Although we root for Gray to find Isabel and solve the mystery concerning all the deaths that follow her, we don't feel terribly invested in the outcome. The ending is satisfying, though not entirely unpredictable.

Reviewed by Pamela Kramer on September 25, 2020

And Now She's Gone
by Rachel Howzell Hall