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Missing Pieces


Missing Pieces

When Jack Quinlan was 15 years old, he came home to find his mother in a bloody heap at the foot of the cellar stairs. His father was nowhere to be found. As soon as he possibly could, Jack got out of tiny Penny Gate, Iowa, and has never gone back. But now, almost 25 years later, his Aunt Julia has taken a tumble down some stairs and is in critical condition. Aunt Julia and Uncle Hal opened their home to Jack and his sister, Amy, those long years ago, and raised the children as if the two were their own. The least he can do is visit her.

Jack’s wife, Sarah, insists on going with him for support. He is a bit dubious about the idea, mostly because he has left out a lot of details concerning his childhood; in fact, he has woven a somewhat false history for himself instead. He just hopes no one brings up the past. Of course, Jack was harboring false hope. Once back in Penny Gate, as with all small towns, it’s hard to keep secrets buried, especially when a brutal murder remains unsolved. Sarah wasn’t purposely nosing around, at least at first, but she couldn’t avoid hearing what the townsfolk were saying. About Jack. About Amy. About their entire family. And now about Aunt Julia. About how maybe her fall wasn’t so innocent.

"In Sarah Quinlan, Gudenkauf has an unwitting sleuth, but also a very adept one.... She uses the old rundown house to her advantage, almost as though it was a character of its own..."

Decades ago, the Penny Gate police assumed that, since Jack’s father disappeared the day his mother was killed, he was responsible for her death. But was that what really happened? Sarah, with a background in journalism, can’t resist digging into the case. And every new fact that she unearths spurs her to dig deeper. She senses she’s getting close to finding the truth. Pretty sure she can take care of herself, Sarah nonetheless has some scary moments and close calls. On a fairly personal note, someone is sending her cryptic emails that she initially dismisses, but they start to sound more than a little ominous. She thinks they might even be a serious threat. Fortunately, Sarah has an ally in the unlikeliest of places, for she’s not certain she can trust Jack any longer. If only she could leave Penny Gate and go home, things might turn out all right.

Heather Gudenkauf knows a thing or two about pacing, as she so stunningly demonstrated in THE WEIGHT OF SILENCE, a thriller of the best sort. Now, she turns her talents to a more mature murder, one no less difficult to figure out. In Sarah Quinlan, Gudenkauf has an unwitting sleuth, but also a very adept one. She gives Sarah a past to unravel, with some dead ends to fight through and an unwavering quest. She uses the old rundown house to her advantage, almost as though it was a character of its own: the peeling paint, the dim lights, the rural setting, the creaky steps. So every time someone goes into the cellar --- that dark, dank room illuminated by a single bare bulb --- the reader, holding his breath, will be ready to yell, “Don’t go down there!” This is a story that undoubtedly will creep you out.

Reviewed by Kate Ayers on February 4, 2016

Missing Pieces
by Heather Gudenkauf

  • Publication Date: August 9, 2016
  • Genres: Fiction, Suspense, Thriller
  • Paperback: 368 pages
  • Publisher: Mira
  • ISBN-10: 0778319318
  • ISBN-13: 9780778319313