Howdy, howdy! Happy Halloween! I hope everyone has a safe and wonderful evening filled with lots of candy (whether you trick or treat or just hide from the doorbell and watch scary movies). It’s time for another book review. For this week, I decided to take a look at Louisa Luna’s Two Girls Down. It’s a mystery/thriller that was released in January by Doubleday. I read it as a recommendation from some of the ladies in the book club I’m part of. So, let’s get down to it.
Two Girls Down revolves around the disappearance of two girls (surprised yet?), Kylie (10) and Bailey (8). Alice Vega, a kind of professional child finder, comes all the way across the country at the family’s behest when the police begin to prove useless. She teams up with ex-cop/current PI, Max “Cap” Caplan. They both have issues of their own to work through while conducting a search with few leads. Basically, it’s one of your average mystery scenarios.
Let’s start at the beginning. We’re in Jamie Brandt’s (the mother’s) head during the first chapter, which was kind of neat. I was looking forward to seeing her progress through the story and seeing how she dealt with everything. But nope. We jump from her to a story that flops back and forth between Vega and Cap. That would have been fine, but it made the opening chapter feel more like a prologue. Why did I even bother reading that part? Yes, it set up the case. But that was just as easily done throughout the rest of the story. I just felt kind of robbed that we never got to go back in Jamie’s head.
The characters were all pretty cool. Cap was jaded yet optimistic, which was an odd combo, but it worked. Vega had a lot of eccentricities and some emotional disconnect. I kind of wondered if she was supposed to be on the autism spectrum, but it wasn’t addressed in the story, so who knows. Nell (Cap’s daughter) was a little too good to be true. And the bad people were pretty damn creepy. Though I will say that a lot of Vega’s characterization made the story feel like the second or third book in a series. Like I was supposed to understand references to her past cases. But it’s the first (only?) book, so it was super disconcerting.
The plot was slow and repetitive, which isn’t as uncommon in mysteries as it should be. I didn’t particularly understand the bad guy’s partner, but I know people like that exist. It took a hard turn towards gritty when everything pointed towards pedophilia (not really a spoiler since the possibility is there all along). My only issue was that the bad guy’s preferred age range seemed to vary a lot. Pedophiles usually stick to a pretty limited age range, so it made me wonder if something else was going on. Apparently not.
Ultimately, I had problems with Two Girls Down. It left me unsatisfied. I don’t need a happy ending, but the one I got was lukewarm and just kind of there. Some people loved the book. I wasn’t one of them.
Overall, I gave it two stars. It was okay, but not something I’ll go out of my way to get sequels of, should they come out. If you like average mysteries, give it a shot. If you’re more into fast-paced thrillers with something new on every other page, skip this one.