The Good Girl
Author: Mary Kubica
Date of Publication: July 29, 2014
The Good Girl is much more than just another "missing girl" mystery. Mary Kubica is a first time author and hits this one out of the park. There are four main characters. Mia Dennett, the good girl of the title, is the younger daughter of a prominent Chicago judge. She teaches at risk teens in an inner city school which is contrary to the expectations of her domineering father. The second main character is Mia's mother Eve, a very conflicted socialite and stay at home mother. The third main character is Colin Thatcher, a down on his luck loser and petty criminal who is hired to abduct Mia. The final main character is Gabe Hoffman, the Chicago detective tasked with finding Mia and placating her distraught mother and tyrannical and demanding father.
The author tells the story from all four main characters perspective and from two time frames: before and after Mia's disappearance. Chapters alternate between characters and time frames. This sounds overly complicated and distracting, but the author succeeds in advancing the plot and developing the main characters in a very deft and entertaining way without causing confusion. Colin was to have turned Mia over to a group planning to demand a ransom from the judge. In a spur of the moment change of heart, Colin fears for Mia's life and decides to go into hiding with her rather than turn her over to his employers. The story is entrancing at times, disturbing in others and, finally, completely surprising. There is a plot twist in the Epilogue which (for me at least) was unexpected, startling and changes the entire story.
The author manages to intertwine a discussion of the "Stockholm Syndrome" which at times could explain the relationship that develops between Mia and Colin. There are several intriguing sub-plots including a growing connection between Eve and Gabe as each becomes more emotionally dependent on the other as the investigation drags on for weeks and weeks. Colin's immigrant mother who is severely ill with Parkinson's plays a pivotal role in the search for Colin and Mia.
There are two main settings for The Good Girl. The first is the author's native Chicago which she paints to perfection. The second is a spooky abandoned cabin in northern Minnesota. The author's use of setting to effect tone and ratchet up the tension is reminiscent of Stephen King's best novels. The Good Girl has been compared to Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn but trust me, this book is much, much better.